ROANOKE, Va. – Children and teenagers will be back at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southwest Virginia on July 6 and staff are preparing to have tough conversations about race and discrimination with the students.
Director of Operations Calvin Curry said the world is a different place since staff last saw the kids, between COVID-19 to demands for justice and racial equity.
“We’re going to start by asking them first, ‘How are they doing?' We haven’t seen our kids since early March when the schools shut down. So first we just want to check in,” said Curry.
They’re going to have to have some tough talks about race and discrimination, what kids are seeing on TV and in their local communities. Curry said each conversation will look different for the first through 12th graders.
”Admit to our students, that unfortunately, in this country, in this world, some people are unfairly treated based on race, based on gender, based on age,” said Curry.
Those candid conversations began Friday during a virtual discussion with U.S. Senator Tim Kaine. He invited teens from clubs across the Commonwealth, including Tyler Turner who lives in Roanoke, to raise their concerns and changes they’d like to see in Congress.
“Aside from police, are there other people that need to be held accountable for the unjust treatment of African Americans?” Turner asked Kaine.
The discussions touched on criminal justice and police reform, accountability and trust.
“When people don’t get involved, we always go backward,” said Kaine. “When people do get involved--and that includes both peaceful protesting and activism--when people do get involved, we go forward.”
Kaine and Curry also called on the students to peaceful action and activism.
“Asking our students to model the kind of behavior to help change this nation,” said Curry.