Racial equality has dominated recent news and conversations. Amid accusations of injustice, prejudice, and retribution, it’s important to engage teenagers in thoughtful dialogue.
Consider giving your kids a theological perspective on the beginnings of racism. (Hint: It existed long before America did.) In Genesis 11, God scattered a once united people. When they grouped together based on familiarity, racism was born.
Help teenagers understand that although multiple sociological ideologies might help unite people, the only true answer is Jesus. His sacrifice for humanity provides equal footing for everyone (see Galatians 3:28). And though that may feel like a simplified answer, it’s the right one.
Guide young people to understand that trivializing racism merely perpetuates it. For example, when we refer to a black vehicle and kids jokingly call out “racist,” they strip the gravity from the plight of people who truly experience discrimination.
Encourage kids to intersect with and understand people who are different from them, whether by race, religion, upbringing, socioeconomic background, etc. Bigotry exists when we fail to push through our own discomfort to understand someone who’s unlike us.
The message of various “Lives Matter” movements is pretty congruent with Jesus’ message: #PeopleMatter. What they do for a living, what section of town they live in, who they’re voting for, or what church they attend doesn’t matter. Their skin color, size, appearance, bank account, and personal preferences don’t outweigh their humanity or their soul (see 1 Timothy 2:1-6).
STATE OF AMERICAN TEENS
In a poll of more than 2,000 U.S. teenagers of diverse backgrounds, Newsweek found:
Eighty-two percent of today’s teens believe racism will continue as a serious problem in their generation, while 91% of black teens believe racism is here to stay. Teens of all backgrounds, regardless of race, agree that African Americans are discriminated against at higher rates than others.
Black teens are more likely to be aware of gun violence or stories of police officers being accused of killing innocent people. They’re also more likely to worry about being victims of shootings. That may explain why 55% of American teenagers favor some sort of gun control.