Share this toolkit with a friend:
The kids can tell that something sneaky is going on.
We tell them that hitting isn’t okay. We tell them that no person or group has the right to harm another without consequences. We tell them coercion, humiliation, punishment, and violence never solves anything and that good people don’t do those things. But that’s not the truth - not yet.
The truth is - we rely on a system that functions on coercion, humiliation, punishment, and violence. Bad stuff! We avoid talking about our policing, judicial, and prison systems and how they target and kill marginalized people. We ignore how these systems consolidate power to those who already have plenty.
We’re telling our kids: Do no harm (except when you have power, in which case - do whatever the heck you want.) Trust the authorities to protect you (but look away when they hurt others). We’re forcing kids to suffer cognitive dissonance - training them to stay silent when they see people hurting. And it’s damaging their little brains! This is abuse!
Our US policing system was created to control Black Americans when we could no longer profit from chattel slavery. And it’s adapted to the times - now that most people think overt racism is tawdry, our systems have had to adapt. Our laws are still designed to maintain inequity - but now they’re more subtle. So subtle that it’s easy to pretend nothing is icky or unfair about them.
We tell ourselves that police brutality is a ‘one bad apple’ problem to excuse our looking away. No! The entire system is designed to intimidate, subjugate, and oppress marginalized people for profit.
This isn’t okay. Our grownup brains have grown accustomed to this mess, and it hurts. But our kids don’t have to hurt. Kids can’t feel safe or trust us when we omit the truth and gaslight them. So we have to help them build a better world where we all hurt less.
If we want our kids to value honesty - we must have conversations about police brutality. If you need tools for hard-but-honest conversations, start with the age-appropriate steps in this toolkit to break the cycle and end this violence.
Support your children in being the kind and courageous people they want to be.
Ashia Ray of Raising Luminaries
Jennifer Bradley of The Philly Children’s Movement
Carmen R. & Monica R. of Raising The Resistance
April B. of the Student Ignition Society
Elena Belle White of MassArt’s Center for Art and Community Partnerships (CACP)
Words can have many meanings. These are some of the ideas we think of when we use words in this toolkit.
“We are building a movement and we want your words to inspire others to speak out and stand up for what is fair and just!”
- Jennifer Bradley, Philly Children’s Movement
Power + Justice + Unity + Circle + Listen + Stand + Heal + Respect
We invite you to create an advocacy poem in solidarity with people targeted by police brutality using these eight words.
Be an advocate - think global, act local.
For Pre-Writers & Visual Poets
It may seem like your voice as a kid isn’t important or powerful enough to stop the police from hurting people. Here is a secret...adults often feel this way too. But it’s not true! Your voice matters just as much as any adult.
And here’s another secret…to us, your voice matters more. As a kid-leader, you’re the person who decides how the world will run when you grow up. Now is the time to demand the future you want to live in! Tell us grownups, so we can help you make it happen.
If this feels like it’s all too big to tackle, I get that - I feel that way too. Kids from all generations have fought for justice - and they won. We can do it again.
Change always starts small. Start by talking about the questions below with a trusted grownup.
One of the best ways to start making change is to tell the people in our life how we feel about the things that feel unfair.
Hello! How are you? I hope that all is well!
You may be wondering about [kid’s name]’s latest project. As a favorite neighbor, they are excited to share it with you.
You have probably seen the recent stories in the news about George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, three Black people recently killed by police brutality and vigilantes. This comes at a time in which Black and Latinx people are impacted by COVID-19 at drastically higher rates than average. I can understand why so many people are hurt, angry, and reeling in a time like this.
Although these facts are difficult, [kid’s name] and I have been having age-appropriate discussions about them. It’s important to us that they trust adults to tell them the truth about who is hurting - so we can help with the healing. Even when these talks are hard.
Part of what we are talking about is how these deaths - both the ones from violent acts by police and those caused by COVID-19 - are all part of an unfair system that we’ve all grown used to. [Kid’s name] doesn’t want to get used to it. They want something better. I support them in that.
It’s hard to learn that there is so much injustice in our country. I want [kid’s name] to find hope and know that they have power to learn about and change things. That is why, in addition to talking with [kid’s name] about the challenges people of color have to face in our country, I am supporting their creativity on how to navigate hard conversations within our own neighborhood. Which is scary!
Not telling them what to believe - but how to think critically about current events, write letters, and peacefully share their ideas. You may have noticed our [bingo actions] outside the other day.
We talked about who in our neighborhood might be safe to share their ideas with - and [kid’s name] thought of [you/your family]. I really appreciate having a receptive role model like you in our neighborhood!
Meanwhile, I’m still learning about all of these issues myself. If you ever want a friendly person to talk about this with, we’d love to chat and exchange helpful resources.
[Friend’s name] is such a special friend and [my kid’s name] wanted to know how they feel about this important issue. If you’re open to our kids talking about their feelings and ideas together, here is a link to a kid-friendly toolkit (https://bit.ly/sis-police-violence) that made it easier for us. Hopefully they can make a difference together!
Write a poem that includes these 8 words:
We learn that our actions matter by doing. Choose five actions to complete within the next five weeks and put them on your calendar!
Talk with a family member:
Pretend with stuffies:
Practice listening to three people this week.
What did you learn?
Ask someone younger than you:
Make signs for your stuffies and action figures to hold a toy protest
Take a pledge to support and include people with less power than you.
Ask a friend:
Make a plan:
Ask a friend:
Donate $5 to
Ask a neighbor what JUSTICE means to them
Write a poem What does JUSTICE mean to you?
Chalk The Walk What do you want people to know and do right now?
Ask someone you love:
Draw a picture: When you feel hurt, what helps you heal?
Ask a friend if they are willing to talk about Something Happened In Our Town with you.
Practice with an adult
Support #OwnVoices Organizations
More Book Collections
This is a living document updated by members of the Student Ignition Society (SIS), the Education Community within Raising Luminaries.. We need your help - join the SIS community & contribute to our next toolkit!
The impetus for this toolkit originated in support of the Philly Children’s Movement home-based day of action for families to respond in the wake of the brutalization and murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, which inspired Wee The People & MassArt’s Center for Art and Community Partnerships (CACP), Wee Chalk The Walk #FamilyDayOfAction. Activities, inspired these initiatives, and in particular, advocacy poem exercise was developed by CACP/sparc!'s Teaching Artist in Residence, Lewis Morris.
With special thanks to Zetta Elliott for her 8 word poem to inspire young poets:
let the circle be unbroken
let us rise with new resolve
to stand guard over the fallen
who have earned respect at last
let justice roll down like water
and cleanse our wounds so we may heal
let the world pause to bear witness
to our fearsome unity
let us listen amidst the chaos
for our ancestors’ command
urging us to seize the power
we have been too long denied
Document originated: 05/28/20 (Ashia R..) Last updated: 6/13/20 (Ashia R.) in accordance with the Raising Luminaries Foundational Honesty Statement & Guidelines for Accountability.