Two black parents on how they are preparing their children for racism | Culture Clash

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“My son is four. We’ve started having conversations.”

Marvyn Harrison lives in London with his two young children. Preparing them to encounter racism has already become a central part of his parenting.

“I think affirmations are really powerful. We do them every day. About loving your skin, about loving your hair and loving your face.

“What I’m aiming to do there is preload them with answers, so if anyone wants to be like ‘you’re dirty’ or compare them to an animal…they’d be like ‘but I love myself.’”


In Lyon, France, Vivienne has brought up her two sons to be vigilant.

“I always tell [them] be careful. Take your ID card, be clean, express yourself well.

“You never know who you might come across.”

The death of George Floyd has given these conversations renewed urgency. For Marvyn, like so many black parents, distrust of the police runs deep.

“I’ve never called the police… I think I have more faith in my own ability to protect me than I do them.

Watch this week’s episode of Culture Clash: How I explain racism to my children

“I would like to be able to call them. I don’t want to have to become somebody like the Hulk to save my family when everyone else can call on a team of people that I ultimately help pay for.”

“It’s normal that black people around the world are in revolt. It’s normal,” Vivienne says.

“In general I don’t have a problem with law enforcement. On the other hand, within their ranks, it’s clear as day that there are racists. There are those who take advantage of their uniform.”

Turning to her sons she adds, “I know that they could be the victims of racism.

“I dream that my two boys can grow up in a world where we don’t only see the colour of their skin but that we judge them by their competence, their way of being…Like everyone else.

“It’s the dream of a black mother. That’s all.”

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