Child psychologist Dr. Melissa Sporn and a group of parents share their advice for talking to kids about racism and current events.
Following the fatal mayhem in Charlottesville, Va., civil rights, human rights organizations and we as a nation must band together to denounce hate and violence while confronting them head on with love and unity. People of faith must stand witness against hate and racism.
As we pray for the dead and wounded, we must shift gears and creatively but effectively address the ongoing and tragic escalation of racial/ethnic/religious strife and hate sweeping our country since 2016 presidential campaign. Muslims, Jews, people of color, LGBTQ and others have been relentlessly attacked, maligned, used as scapegoats and even killed under our collective watch.
The August act of terror mosque bombing in Minneapolis, ongoing anti-Muslim/Islam hateful rhetoric/violence after each terrorist attack are all symptoms of the wave of hate and fear mongering sweeping the nation.
In Charlottesville, the Jewish community was forced to hire private security after local police denied protection to synagogue worshipers from neo-Nazis during the violent weekend. As Jews prayed at the synagogue, men dressed in fatigues carrying semi-automatic rifles stood across the street.
So what did Jewish, Muslim and black children learn from Charlottesville, the mosque bombing and June 2015 Charleston church shootings? How do we heal them, support them and each other? Many entities including civil rights and human rights groups must reconsider their mission/role and strategy in fighting this threatening wave of violent supremacy claimed by any one group or ideology. The American Civil Liberties Union, in response to Charlottesville terror, will no longer defend hate groups protesting with firearms.
The 2016 presidential campaign may have fermented hate but these racist sentiments and groups have been lurking under the surface since the civil rights movement but are now emboldened. No one should sit on the margin, pretending that the election of the first biracial president, Barack Obama, cured it all. We need to work together across political divides to not only rescue and heal our nation and our children from this spreading menace but also face the underlining causes/promoters behind this new reality. We must stand shoulder to shoulder for the love of country to confront this new metastasizing cancer. We need to protect our communities, our children and grandchildren in these new horrifying times, and challenge all divisive voices.
It was heartening to hear former presidents and candidates standing up against hate and bigotry. Mitt Romney stated that, regardless of whether Donald Trump intended it, the president’s words “caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn.”
We salute the five U.S. Joint Chiefs who issued a public condemnation of white supremacist groups following Charlottesville violent racial unrest.
The University of Iowa Center for Human Rights and Physicians for Social Responsibility, with others, have been planning a series of events/forums to address the effect of violence, hate, terrorism and conflicts on children. Following the recent tragedies in Minnesota, Virginia and in Spain, these events could not be timelier. Our children are our best investment for the future. We must cherish them, protect them and guard them at such frightening times in our nation and the world.
The upcoming evolving communitywide events are in three segments:
- “Setting the Stage”: 6:30-8 p.m. Sept. 21, Coralville Public Library, 1401 Fifth St. Forum to acknowledge, underscore and further understand the significance of the United Nation’s International Day of Peace.
- “Recording Experiences and Responses”: 10 a.m.-noon Oct. 20, location TBD. To be incorporated within the Witching Hour Festival in downtown Iowa City.
- “The Right to a Livable Future: Making All Children Matter”: 1:30-4 p.m. Dec. 10, Old Capitol Museum, 21 N. Clinton St., Iowa City. Event coincides with Human Rights Day.
Please join us to collectively celebrate our children and youths, and address their needs and fears during these challenging times.
“I will be waiting here….
For your silence to break,
For your soul to shake,
For your love to wake!”
— Jalaluddin Rumi
Shams Ghoneim is coordinator of the Muslim Public Affairs Council of Iowa, a member of the Press-Citizen Writers’ Group and a community member on the Press-Citizen editorial board.