How do you discuss issues of race and privilege with your children?
These and other questions were on the minds of the more than 140 individuals who gathered at Mother 2 Mother Part II at the Missouri History Museum on Oct. 13. Participants varied in race and gender, and every table of 10 hosted people of all backgrounds. The conversations centered on a list of questions and the groups discussed what could be done to change the racial status quo in St. Louis and beyond.
Here are some of their voices:
One of the mothers who spoke at the first Mother 2 Mother event, Tango Walker feels very passionately about fighting racial profiling in schools – as her own son has often been on the receiving end of it.
“My first ‘talk’ with him was when he was in first grade. He and his Caucasian friend had gotten into trouble in school, and I was called, but his white friend’s parents were not called. That was the very first ‘talk.’ In the school district that he attended... he was wrongly accused, handcuffed and drug out of the high school as a high school freshman," Walker said.
Walker is director of center operations for Grace Hill Settlement House Head Start, which serves low-income children. She says “The Talk” is not something commonly discussed with students, but plays a role among the staff.
Nadida Matin and her husband, Mohammed Kamal said they attended the event because they have an important story to share and a strong connection to the Michael Brown shooting.
“In November of last year, we lost our son to violence. He was killed by a police officer in Irvington, New Jersey,” Matin said.
Their son, Abdul Kamal, was fatally shot by police while unarmed. Matin believes the conversations had at the Mother 2 Mother events are important because it can lead to greater understanding for Caucasian mothers and can help teach black mothers how to have more effective conversations with their children.
Shirley Moore, Norma Vogelweid and Nikia Gist
These three women, who had sat at the same table throughout the Mother 2 Mother event, were talking among themselves when I approached.
Shirley Moore and Nikia Gist are both black women, while Norma Vogelweid is white and moved to the United States 11 years ago. Vogelweid said she has always been looking for a chance to talk across the racial divide, and the Mother 2 Mother events have provided it.
Gist, the mother of two sons, said she feels she “owes” it to people who aren’t the mothers of African-American youths the chance to hear their stories.
Moore believes that "The Talk" should be given by mothers because they are "at the forefront" and can have the most impact in their children's lives.
Mona Roth is white and attended the Mother 2 Mother events in hopes of learning how to connect better with the young children, especially young black males, she works with through Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA.
“Instead of being ignorant and just hearing from people who tell me what they think, I am hearing it from people - what they know," Roth said.
She shares what she has learned from Mother 2 Mother
Below, you can hear the opinions of Monica McFee, a black mother, Lara Mayhew, a white mother who is learning to raise her black son, Mohammed Kamal, a black father who lost his son in a police-involved shooting last year, Amanda Hastings, a British woman, and Kimberly Norwood, a black lawyer who has faced the same challenges while raising her son.