Children’s Museum of the Upstate talks to families about race and Juneteenth

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – The Children’s Museum of the Upstate will be hosting an event on Saturday, June 20, to help adults talk with children about race in this current cultural climate. The event, Family Forum: Talking About Race at Home will run from 3 p.m. until 5 p.m. in Greenville.

Talks on race, as well as the historical significance of the Juneteenth holiday, will be among the topics covered, Museum CEO and President Hillary Spencer explained.

“Our new mission is to engage a community of problem solvers through intentional and inclusive play,” Spencer said. “Change happens only through inter-generational discourse. How can we support that? Not with an agenda, but within a safe space.”

She noted across the globe adults are already having conversations about race, but it’s important to not forget children should have a voice too. Spencer said it’s up to her organization to remind parents of that talk.

“It doesn’t matter that we all agree. It matters that we all agree to come to the table,” Spencer said.

Racism in America isn’t a new topic and some families that have already been at the “table” may feel some burn out or annoyance that many more people are finally joining the conversation.

The event’s Emcee and Public Speaker, Jeremiah Dew, better known as JDew, said now is not the time to be anything but open to this conversation. This two hour talk is for everyone.

“I cannot fault someone else for things they did not do, at all. I also should be very careful about faulting them for things they do not know. My four-year-old doesn’t know how to ties his shoes. I don’t fault him for not knowing how to tie his shoes, I help him tie his shoes,” said JDew.

One of the event’s panelist, and Greenville County School Educator, Dr. Edward Anderson wholeheartedly agreed with JDew.

“My son, he’s six. He and I just had a recent conversation because, he said-my mom and my cousin, we were standing around talking-and he said, ‘Why do black people talk like this? Why do white people talk normal?'” Anderson said.

“I said, ‘Well a person’s color of their skin does not determine how they speak.’ I said ‘It’s from where they’re raised. Who they’re raised around, their culture, their geography.’ He was like, ‘Oh, okay.’ So, it’s up to us to point those things out and correct those misconceptions when they occur with our kids,” Anderson continued.

Though every home may not have different races, Spencer said it doesn’t mean conversations on race aren’t necessary. She added, parents have to be intentional.

“It is important as a community that values diversity, that values creativity, that values involvement, that we dig deep into our unconscious bias or even our conscious bias. So, that we really can create a community of creative problem solvers,” Spencer said.

Anderson noted that the act of being intentional extends past having conversations on race.

“As an educator, I think it’s so important that we do our job and play our role in providing multicultural education for our kids. Be specific about choosing selections, texts, and stories written by black authors or other authors of color. Choosing characters where the protagonist is seen in a different light, that is so important,” Anderson said.

Thus, the museum’s event will cover Juneteenth. The American holiday is a celebration of the freedom for the last enslaved African Americans in the Confederacy on June 19th 1865. This freedom was late, given the fact that the Emancipation Proclamation was passed on January 1st 1863, more than two years earlier.

JDew noted that Juneteenth is a holiday that more people need to know about. While it’s likely that some people learned about Juneteenth at home or during Black History Month, this date is not just Black History, it’s American History.

“As black people we learned it at home. We learned something different about white people than they taught us in school. We learned something different about Juneteenth. We learned something different about Thomas Jefferson’s slaves, because I didn’t hear that same rhetoric in school. So, now it’s time to include people who want to know. Who are willing to listen. Include them in the conversation so they can get it right,” JDew said.

Spencer said she will also be one of the panelists, because this isn’t just a conversation where only one race talks at people, it’s a dialogue to understand.

She added, JDew’s emcee duties will include a type of gameshow-esque conversation on race for families to learn about its importance and relevance while also having fun.

“This is a piece of history that black people can celebrate,” Andrews said. “It’s just really exciting for people to see and understand the importance and significance of it.”

For information on how you can sign up for this free forum that is open to the public at the Children’s Museum of the Upstate in Greenville, click here.

If you prefer to join the event’s conversation for this event via the internet, click here for the Zoom link.

Additional resources on talking with your children about race can be found, click here.

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