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Part One: A conversation with Black mothers on race as social justice movement gains momentum

Mother encourages White parents to have conversations with children about race

DETROIT – Black mothers recently spoke openly about race and have a message to share regarding what parents need to know.

Wendy Batiste-Johnson recently had a conversation with her child about why it can be offensive for people to say they do not see color.

She believes White people need to have conversations with their children about what it means to have a black friend.

“Because, as much as we all don’t want to admit it there, our black children’s relationship with law enforcement is very different than theirs. So they need to understand that if they’re ever riding their bike in downtown suburban Michigan, that and the cops approach them they’re never to leave their black friend alone. That’s right. And they are to always have a buddy system. And so I’m having these conversations with parents of my son’s, friends, because I need to feel safe,” said Batiste-Johnson.

She added that when people say they do not see color it is offensive because they need to acknowledge that differences do exist between groups of people.

The whole idea of White privilege has come to the surface as the movement toward racial equality and social justice gains momentum. However, many White Americans feel it is offensive.

“So whether it’s privilege or the systems that support white people that we can acknowledge are very different than how they support black people. If you’re a data person you can dive into the data, black folks are two times more likely to die of diabetes, we’re seven times more likely to be incarcerated as an adult, we are two times more likely to have a health disparity. We black mothers are at much greater risk of dying during childbirth than white counterparts. So if you don’t believe those things exist and that they’re set up systematically to not aid, black and brown families, then you don’t understand it so you have to acknowledge it and I just think having understanding that yeah maybe you don’t believe you’ve benefited from White privilege that you certainly have not been burdened by racist by systematic racism that has driven down the American experience, or that has not afforded the American dream too many black families,” said Tiffany Douglas, a local mother.

Batiste-Johnson says her husband and son ran every day up until Ahmad Aubrey was murdered.

“So here’s the message I like to relay is that I don’t want to hear that white people are uncomfortable anymore. Okay, we are living in discomfort every day. It is not comfortable for us to tell our 14-year-old sons, that they can’t go out and be 14-year-old boys. Because we’re living in this very uncomfortable time and not just this time but it’s it’s been uncomfortable for a while,” she said.

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