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Protests Are A ‘New Normal’ For Black Youth. How Are They Coping?

Jeremiah Badgett, 11, of Waldorf, Maryland attends a Black Lives Matter protest with his parents, Jermaine and Danielle Badgett.
Jeremiah Badgett, 11, of Waldorf, Maryland attends a Black Lives Matter protest with his parents, Jermaine and Danielle Badgett.

It’s painful for adults to watch the killing of George Floyd and the ensuing online reactions. Bearing chilling witness to the repeated deaths of Black Americans and to law enforcement dominating and subduing, instead of protecting the public, is profound. 

And Black parents, especially, should assume their children are also aware of these tragedies and the aftermath. Black youth are lining the streets at protests, chanting and fighting for the protection of their lives and the generations to come. 

But is the push for racial justice too great a burden for youngsters to bear?

1A national correspondent Sasha-Ann Simons is also having this conversation with her young daughters. Their regular list of discussion topics include racial slurs, systemic racism, policing and the Black Lives Matter movement.

“It’s a movement to make everybody equal, especially Black lives, because people disrespect them and they still do, which is really sad,” says her 12-year-old, Mykayle.

Without any guidance, some kids are navigating and processing these feelings alone. 

For Black children, the nationwide unrest represents a frightening look at their future — with the violent images they see doing long-term cognitive damage.

But should that harsh reality stop their fight for equality? 

Sasha-Ann spoke with some of the youngest on the front lines and psychologist Rheeda Walker, to find out.

Copyright 2020 WAMU 88.5. To see more, visit WAMU 88.5.

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