Parents use national movements spurred by George Floyd, Breonna Taylor to talk to children about racism

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As calls for racial justice grow louder every day, some families have seized the moment and the momentum of these national movements to teach their children valuable lessons about race and racism.

"It's just really scary being a mother and a wife," said Karen Phillips. "It's super scary, and I don't know which way to go with it."

After the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, Karen and Darryl Phillips were once again forced to have the talk with their 15-year-old son Tyler.

"If you get stopped by police, there are certain things I need you to do regardless of whatever the consequences of why you got stopped," Darryl said.

While it's a conversation had by generations of people of color, some white parents are now wondering whether to talk with their kids at all. William Sites and his wife say it's a necessity for their two teenage daughters, especially because of other white people who think differently.

"We're at a moment where people need to be as active and courageous as they can, because what comes with this moment is also an enormous opportunity for change," Sites said.

That change includes discussions about white privilege, prejudice and police brutality.

"We've been pulled over a couple of times, but I've never been afraid and my privilege is I don't ever have to be afraid," said Norie Kaufman-Sites.

That's a luxury most young black men don't have.

"All these police officers, you don't know which ones are good and which ones are bad," said Tyler O'Neal. "That's why you have to follow all the rules like hands at 10 and two so they know you're not going to do anything."

Experts say these conversations are essential for all parents to have as they answer questions about what we are seeing and why.

"How are your attitudes towards race, police brutality, institutional racism? We have to deal with our own feelings before we deal with our children," said Natalie Graves, licensed clinical social worker.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.