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Helping Your Teen Process Racial Injustice

Written by Zach Cochran on

The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and others have shaken our world and lead to much unrest within our nation. Our own city, and particularly the black community, is giving voice to the systemic and personal injustice people of color face in our society. 

During this time, two questions come to the mind as many of us consider our roles as parents or parental figures:

  • How are our teenagers processing these tensions?
  • How do we guide them during this time?

No matter your ethnicity or culture, these issues are difficult to work through. Here are three steps for leading your student to think in the way of Jesus.

1. Do Not Let Apathy Take Root 

God calls us to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. Before talking about protesting, rioting, or politics, talk about the tears and trials people of color face. As Christ-followers, we must care. We must be able to look at the pain of our neighbors, and especially our brothers and sisters in Christ, and respond with compassion as Christ would

2. Process What Is Happening

It is easy, especially for those in the majority culture, to ignore the tension in our nation right now. But in order to grow, we need to talk about these issues when they arise. Having these conversations exposes our hearts and allows the gospel to do its work. Talking with your child about these issues will help you better understand where they are at, bring up issues you may have been unaware of, and protect your student from dangerous voices that social media exposes them to. 

3. Facilitate Diverse Friendships

One of the biggest hindrances to discussions on race is proximity. We can’t love, listen, lament, or learn from people we are never around. Our students need friends that have different experiences and backgrounds. Why? Because if not, they may come to think their way of life is not just normal but superior. By fostering diverse friendships, empathy for others, and understanding of differences will grow. 

This is not all we can do, but it is a start. My prayer is that, in helping students take these small steps, they will later be a part of moving the needle on racism in our country. 

Zach Cochran

Zach received a B.A. focused in Philosophy from the University of Tennessee at Martin and received his M.Div. from Southern Seminary in Louisville. A former pastor at College Park Church, Zach now serves as an associate pastor at Sojourn Church J-Town in Louisville, KY.

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