Protests about George Floyd and “Black Lives Matter” have made people think about fairness
Have you ever had a telling off for something you didn’t do? Didn’t get as many sweets as your friends? Or been picked on at school?
Can you think about how that made you feel? Sad? Angry? Probably both.
“It’s not fair!” you say. And you might do something to show how you feel. Slam a door. Throw something. Hit someone even?
We all feel sad and angry at what is unfair from time to time.
In the streets of America
Today, those feelings are in the news. In America and other countries people are going into the streets to say they’re sad and angry, that things are unfair and must change.
Why? In America, policemen killed a man called George Floyd. People were sad for George and angry at the police. The policemen are now in prison.
But people are still sad and angry. Because what happened to George happened partly because of the colour of his skin. He had black skin.
Often the police are rougher with black people, or African Americans, than with people with “white” skin. Other things are also worse for black people.
So people are demonstrating – marching to say: “It’s not fair!”.
Around the world
In other countries, too, people started protesting. One slogan everywhere is “Black lives matter” – we all matter, whatever our skin colour. In each country, protests are complicated. We don’t know what might change. But it’s important news.
Some people’s anger led to fighting in the streets. That’s bad news. People get hurt – and it means people aren’t listening to each other.
But there’s good news. Many demonstrations are calm. People are sad and angry. But are they slamming doors? Breaking things? Hitting people. Mostly not.
Are people nicer to you if you call them names and stamp about? Certainly not!
Making your voice heard
But if you feel sad or angry about what someone has done, it’s important to say so if you want things to change. That’s true at home, at school, and in the world outside. Demonstrations are a way for lots of people together to say they feel sad and angry.
What’s positive since George Floyd died is that so many people are agreeing with the demonstrators. It shows that if you tell people how you feel, calmly, without calling them names or breaking stuff, they’re much more likely to listen to you.
You can see that in pictures. It’s not just black people who are demonstrating. People from everywhere are saying they’re listening. And they say they don’t want us to be divided by silly things like the colour of our skin. (How weird is that?!)
Take a look at this picture, from London. Patrick, who was demonstrating to say “Black lives matter”, is carrying a man with white skin who was hurt. People said the white man had been shouting nasty – racist – things about black people. But when he was hurt, Patrick saved him. “For all of us … I just want things to be fair,” Patrick said.
Credit – Dylan Martinez / Reuters
Taking the knee
Have you seen pictures of people kneeling on one knee? It’s a way to show they agree that things are unfair for black people.
Do you know what some black people did when white people, including policemen, kneeled in front of them to show they understood that the black people were sad about George and things being unfair? The black people cried.
Can you imagine that? You’re sad. And someone tells you that they are listening? You might cry. But then you feel better. And you can talk and make things better.
Listening to each other is really important. It’s not always easy. But we can all practise!
Someone is nasty or does something that’s unfair. It makes you sad and angry.
Say how you feel, calmly, without shouting or calling names. People may listen!
For the very young, you may find this Sesame Street video on the George Floyd and BLM protests useful.
For the older, they might like to hear from 13-year-old Ellis Fearon give a TEDx talk 3 years ago on why “Black lives matter”.
The childcare platform Yoopies has produced a comprehensive guide to the issues raised for kids by the recent global events.
As for the issues explored here for children of sadness, anger and the nonviolent communication of emotions, there are many approaches. Here, we explain to kids the importance of expressing how we feel about something someone has done without turning it into an attack, literal or verbal, on that other person.