I had planned on writing a post this week announcing some of the products and services that I created for digital families. But my heart is just not in it.
Like you, I have seen image after image, video after video of the injustice, police brutality and demonstrations that are going on. Like you, I am sad and angry and wondering what type of future does this hold for our children.
Parents normally ask me about screen limits, and how do I get my son to stop playing Fortnite, or my daughter to stop doing Tik Tok videos in her pajamas. Parents also ask about the damage that internet, social media and technology may be doing to their child’s development, eyesight, brains or neck.
I think today, parents should be asking about the damage that racism and online hate and silence are doing to our children. The damage that comes from indifference or the banality of seeing violence, racism and aggression on a regular basis.
Our children are seeing racism and online hate in THEIR social media feeds, or being replicated on gaming platforms like Roblox, or Minecraft or Fortnite. Sometimes innocent games have racist avatar names in code, or you can always find 420 (Hitler’s national birthday or a reference to marijuana) referenced somewhere online.
The George Floyd video showing a police officer kneeling down hard on the man’s neck for almost nine minutes before he died was shown on Tik Tok – Tik Tok, known for dancing videos or viral moves like the Renegade. (By the way, a dance created by a young Black girl, who did not receive any of the credit or viral fame until Ellen hosted her on her show). Snapchat had “yellowface” and “blackface” filters that users “enjoyed” – until other users complained that it was racist.
If you look at any of the comments on a YouTube video, Instagram story or on Twitter, you will likely find racist vitriol or “jokes.” I’m not laughing.
But I will say that even though my heart is hurting, I am still hopeful. Thanks to supportive friends of all backgrounds who wisely reminded me that we are living the largest civil rights movement worldwide. A movement, where people of all ethnicities and races are getting together and protesting police brutality and racism.
And this movement is not just happening in the United States. There are people around the world who are talking about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and Breonna Taylor, who are adding their voices, who are asking how can they help, how can they get involved and how can they make a difference.
Going back to some of the conversations that I have participated in recently, let me ask you a few of the questions that resonated for me:
What are you going to tell your children and grandchildren about these days, about our politicians, about our actions?
Have we done our best to be decent, to be kind?
If the George Floyd case is our Emmitt Till moment, are we answering the call to change the course of history?
Let me also share THE comment that pushed me to write this article:
“As a privileged white woman and an expat, it’s sometimes hard to know how best to contribute other than donations.”
From there followed an exchange where these incredible people started sharing lists of books on anti-racism for children, books for adults and Black-owned wine businesses here in France (yes, those businesses exist).
I decided right then and there, that I wanted to help people find those Black-owned businesses, to shine a light on all of the fabulous Black talent here in France, to give a page to the Black entrepreneurs who are making it work in Paris and throughout France, to give kudos to the Black artists and writers and creators who you may not see.
I decided to use my voice and pull together all of the wonderful Black women and men that I know as well as reach out to those I would like to know. So, I asked people in various Facebook groups to let me know the names and websites or other contact information so that we can all show up and support some of the business ventures and creative adventures that are happening in Paris and across France.
The list has grown to include Black and Brown businesses and anyone who wanted to be identified.
And what a treasure trove! From a champagne maker to wine experts, beauty and spa owners to health and wellness coaches, restaurateurs, accountants, digital expertise and interpreters. It is my hope that this list will open doors for the talented individuals who can share their expertise and artistry, and connect you with the community associations that seek to build bridges and strengthen families in France.
Let me also add this, it is brilliant to support these businesses and the communities of people who are being ignored, oppressed or discriminated against. But don’t let your support of the community be a one-off and don’t stop continuing the conversation and continuing to make change. I invite you to check out the websites, the social media feeds, and make contact with this incredible community.