Tween Thoughts on the KKK, Neo-Nazis and Alt-Right
People HATE my kids. They want to kill them.
We were in our car coming back from the beach when the I heard the press conference that everyone is talking about. My jaw dropped when he essentially said that the "alt left" was as bad as the Alt-Right. That both sides shared the blame of what happened in Virginia. I don't need to rehash what happened, by now we all have seen images and video from Charlottesville, know about Heather and have heard Trump's shocking response on Tuesday. But as I yelled at the radio and gestured wildly while sitting in traffic, my kids wanted to know what was going on. They started to listen. They heard the words Neo-Nazi and KKK. From the commentators afterward, they heard the words Jews, blacks, gays.
My kids are Jewish. My husband, his family, his ancestors. I am not, but I have a sudden, keen awareness that those I love are threatened and could be in danger if things escalate. The thought is terrifying. And then I looked in my rearview at my kids and I thought, people hate my kids. People HATE my kids. They want to kill them.
I explained what's going on as best I could. I don't know if I did it right. I do know that both my kids had a lot of questions and are confused, as confused as I am about why people hate. I decided to interview my tween. Here's what she had to say.
Me: How does it make you feel to know that someone - who doesn't even know you - hates you?
Tween: I'm just a kid. It feels weird to know that a stranger hates you for something you haven't done to them. Why can't they just let people live how they want to live?
Me: Do you know why [they say] they hate certain groups of people?
Tween: They hate people because of their appearance and how people live. You can't help being a different color from somebody. And the [LGBTQ community] should be married to who they want to marry and they should be able to live their lives like they want to.
Me: Did you choose to be Jewish?
Me: Do you think that being Jewish makes you different?
Tween: No. I'm no different from anybody else.
Me: How do you feel about them? For them?
Tween: I feel bad for them that they think that way. Because it's so hateful and people just want to live a peaceful life.
Me: What do you think hate feels like? What do they feel?
Tween: They must feel angry and negative. It must feel like a never-ending anger.
Me: What do you think about the fact that they would hurt or kill people?
Tween: The people who are gay or black or Jewish, they've never done anything to the racists. It doesn't make any sense.
Me: Why do you think they hate?
Tween: I think they hate because of their religion. They hate everyone who is different from them. They're selfish. They probably learned it from their parents or from their family members. Their family probably learned it from their parents.
Me: What would you say to them if you were face to face with them?
Tween: I would say it's very wrong and hateful. People are people. Let them be how they want to be. Nobody else is different from you or me.
Me: What do you think you have in common with them?
Tween: We're all people. We have families. We go to school. We might like hamburgers or brownies. We may all like to ride bikes. But the one thing we don't have in common is that they're hateful to other people.
Ask your tween what he or she thinks about the issue of hate in our country and our world. Open the dialogue. We need desperately to spread love and understanding. I feel strongly our kids are the path to that end.