What it means to be black in America? 2 different families with the same message
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Two sets of parents. The same conversation.
The chilling cellphone video of George Floyd rocked the world. His death while in police custody sparked outrage, protests, and a cry for change.
For Scott and Audrey Embacher conversations about race and racism are ongoing.
The couple’s raising two adopted sons from Ethiopia.
I sat down with the family at the Ethiopian Cultural Garden in Cleveland.
It’s a place they helped bring to life as a way to embrace and honor their children’s culture.
They said as white parents raising black boys the reality of racism can’t be ignored and that it’s always been their responsibility to educate themselves and their children.
“We don’t have the same experiences that we know they’re going to have,” said Audrey Embacher.
“He’s a black teenager and the stereotypes that accompany that could be jeopardizing his safety,” said Scott Embacher. “That’s something I have to think about. That’s something I fear every time when he goes out knowing that the world may see him differently than I do.”
They said part of protecting their kids is to have the conversation of what it means to be black in America.
“If you see a police officer make sure you cooperate with him and be as friendly as you can,” said Fosika Embacher.
“They tell us to be careful cause there’s a lot of bad people out there in the world,” said Tariku Embacher.
Pastor Christine A. Smith and her husband Aristide said they rely on their faith to help guide them in conversations about racism with their family.
“God always has more beauty and more love and more power than evil,” said Pastor Smith.
Some of that evil includes battling against stereotypes.
“This impression that they’re aggressive, They’re overly sexed. That they’re going to steal something. So we have taught our boys in particular to be careful.”
The couple said they try to keep those conversations balanced because they don’t want their kids to live in fear, but, reality can be scary.
“When I see the police I get a little nervous, but I just keep on walking,” said Aris Smith. They don’t do anything.”
I asked, “Why do you get nervous?”
”Because I don’t know. I don’t want to get hurt.”
“I don’t think unless you are Black you can really understand what that feels like. What that heaviness feels like,” said Caleb Smith.
Child Clinical Psychologist Dr. Marsheena Murray said those feelings can be overwhelming.
“It’s one thing to see a person oppressed,” said Dr. Murray. “It’s another thing to see a person who looks just like you experience these things and it’s really traumatic for black youth and their parents.”
Dr. Murray said it’s critical to listen and talk about those vulnerable feelings.
She said racist ideology can create deep emotional wounds.
“Talk to people who might not be where you are on the stage of readiness to be open to help shift people further along,” said Dr. Murray.
We spoke to two different families with the same message -- their hope to erase racism.
“Don’t paint with a broad brush.”
“We should already be accepted in the world.”
“Care a little more.”
There’s a gap right now between what the world should be and what the world is, said Pastor Smith.
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