Want to help kids find their voice? Here's how to protest peacefully from home

"What we really want to see is support without conditions," says one dad, explaining how families can stand up against injustice.
/ Source: TODAY

As protests continue around the country in the wake of the death of George Floyd, parents are having big conversations with their kids about racism and injustice.

As kids learn more about the ways others are speaking out in support of the black community, parents may wonder how to safely help their children express their own feelings about the changes they want to see in their world.

Doyin Richards, author of "What's the Difference?: Being Different is Amazing," says it's all about engaging kids in activities that help them develop a sense of empathy.

Author and speaker Doyin Richards with his daughters, ages 6 and 9.Doyin Richards

"What I teach my kids is if they see someone being bullied or being downed or mocked or are being taken advantage of, they have to stand up," said Richards, who has two daughters ages 6 and 9. "You have to put your arm around that person and say, 'Listen, I've got you. I'm here for you.'"

Richards says that attitude of support should extend to the way adults handle events making current headlines, but that isn't always the case.

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"We're seeing a lot of white people who are saying, 'That's bad, but, there's always something,'" Richards told TODAY Parents. "What I'm seeing, especially now with the looting going on is, 'Yeah the murder sucks, but why are they looting?' Instead it should be, 'Look it sucks that they're looting, but it's even worse that these black men are getting murdered in the street by people who are sworn to protect and serve us.'"

"The emphasis is in the wrong place. What we really want to see is support without conditions — support without any footnote, any asterisk, any 'see the fine print' stuff. We want it to be, 'Look, we stand with you. This is awful.'"

For parents looking to engage in activities that show that type of support with their kids, we've rounded up five ways to involve kids in peaceful protest methods from home.

Send support to those attending protests

A group of moms in the Washington, D.C. area delivered baskets of snacks and drinks to protesters.Kate Coleman

When mom of four Kate Coleman received an email from a friend suggesting they join together to bring snacks and notes of encouragement to peaceful protestors in Washington, D.C., she was eager to participate. The group of mothers gathered bags with "mom snacks and love notes" and left them near protest sites along with signs of support.

"That maternal feel as people are grabbing a Girl Scout cookie and apple juice reminds people of love and innocence and hopefully encourages people to focus on the good and work to make changes peacefully," said Coleman.

Mark your home as a safe place

The Hang Your Heart Project encourages families to place green hearts in the front windows of their homes to let people of color know they have allies inside. Kids can color printable pages from the group's website, or create other crafty green hearts, and parents can use the gesture as a way to talk to their children about racism and social injustice.

"Hang a green heart in your window, so that if a person of color is in your neighborhood and is feeling threatened or fearful of an individual intending to do them harm verbally, physically or otherwise, they know they can knock on your door and you will amplify their voice and protect them," the group explained on Instagram.

Chalk your walk

Communities are coming together to create sidewalk chalk art on driveways and sidewalks that show support for the black community.

Various businesses and organizations throughout the U.S. recently joined together to hold a community event encouraging families to list the names of victims of violence like Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in artwork, and to create sidewalk chalk art and signs supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

Hold a "toy protest"

The organizers of the community sidewalk chalk event also recommended families make mini toy protests, creating signs and attaching them to toys to stage a peaceful protest at home.

"We organized a toy protest as a way of continuing our conversation about how black people are treated in this country," one participant posted on Instagram. "We talked about how white silence equals white violence and how we need to use our privilege to be up-standers."

Read together

"Teacher in me had to do this," wrote Twitter user @antisocialbritt, who shared a thread of books for kids that discuss race and racism.

Spending time reading through titles like these as a family is another way to pause and reflect on the protests happening around the country, and may open up further conversations with kids about their thoughts and questions.