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Kids These Days: What conversations are you having with your family about race?

students protesting in Ann Arbor
Emma Winowiecki
Michigan Radio
Three weeks after police killed George Floyd, teens have been out on the streets to protest police brutality and systemic racism. Here they march in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

leah dewey
Credit Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Community High School student Leah Dewey.

Three weeks after police killed George Floyd, teens have been out on the streets to protest police brutality and systemic racism.

Some people may wonder: why? What is motivating teens to step out, to speak up, and to demand change?

To try and answer that, let’s move out of the streets and into the home for just a moment.
What kinds of conversations are teens having with their families about race right now? And how have those conversations changed over time? What’s being talked about – and what isn’t?

Leah Dewey is a student at Community High School in Ann Arbor. She’s mixed, her mom is black, white, and Arab, and her dad’s white. She says her mom has talked to her about race since she can remember.

“We’ve been having these talks my entire life. About how to be a person of color in America,” she says. “In sixth grade it was about the police. In eighth grade it was about how to react when someone stereotypes you. In tenth grade it was about coping with ignorant relatives. In eleventh grade it was about the N word.”

Dewey asked a couple of her classmates to record conversations with their own moms to see what those conversations are like right now, and how they were similar…or not so much from the conversations she has with her own family.

“These conversations can be different depending on who's having them, and what experiences they bring to the table,” says Dewey. “There’s no one way to have These  Talks. And it’s pretty revealing to hear what gets included...and what doesn’t.”

Listen to the full conversations between these teens and their parents in episode 1 of Kids These Days from Community High School and Michigan Radio on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen.

Support for Michigan Radio's Kids These Days comes from the Michigan Health Endowment Fundand The Children's Foundation.

Want to support more podcasts like this? Consider making a gift to Michigan Radio today.

Paulette is a digital media reporter and producer for Michigan Public. She started as a newsroom intern at the station in 2014 and has taken on various roles in that time, including filling in as an on-air host.