GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — Stephanie Coard and Laura Gonzalez are both professors at UNC Greensboro. They’re part of a research group working on an online support program to give families strategies to have conversations about race and ethnicity. It’s called One Talk at a Time.
“We’ve been thinking about these conversations that… racial socialization conversations that parents and kids from different racial ethnic groups might be either having or trying to have or wanting to improve their ability to have,” Gonzalez said.
“We need to make sure that our children are prepared to navigate and negotiate the train of racism,” Coard added. “So the fact that we have to have these discussions constantly is unfortunate, but a reality of our lives.”
But their most important job is mom. Coard has three adult children. Her youngest is 20.
“I think raising Black kids for me has always been a conscious purposeful intentional process. These are discussions that I’ve had with them early on.”
Gonzalez has three.
“Mine are all middle school-aged. they’re at a different stage in life, but especially in today’s wired society when they’re exposed to everything that’s happening, they’re aware of everything that’s happening in the news.”
Practicing what they preach is real life. For Coard, it’s getting her son to understand why she’s so protective.
“At this point it’s like ‘Mom chill. Relax. Why are you stressing out? You’re over the top.’ No, I’m not over the top and if I am over the top this is why I’m over the top and you know why I’m over the top… because there are kids that look just like you that are being killed for no reason. So I constantly worry about him doing regular everyday routine things and somehow being hurt and it’s a constant angst for me when he leaves the home.”
For Gonzalez, it’s helping her three make sense of the world.
“They’re wondering, for example, why did the police officer act in the way they did. Then it’s also incumbent upon me to let them know that this conversation is bigger than what happened to George Floyd. I have to help them put in context of historically people with black and brown skin have been on the receiving end of violence more often than people with skin like me or my kids,” she explained.
Gonzalez says she’s seeing more white moms take initiative to figure out how to talk about race.
“A lot of people might say it’s doggone about time, I feel like white folks have gotten a little more a sense of urgency about entering this conversation and doing something different,” she said.
Coard said these conversations are progress.
“I’m glad folks are getting to a point where they realize having these discussions doesn’t take away from anything. It doesn’t from you. It doesn’t take away from your children. It actually brings something to the table, and we all need to be at the table, and we all need to have a voice at the table.”
They believe every mother has something in common.
“All moms want their kids to be healthy and safe and have the chance to grow up and flourish and be all that they can be,” Gonzalez said.
And just like every mom’s kids, every conversation they help along will be different.
“We know it can be daunting, it can be intimidating,” Gonzalez explained.
“It doesn’t say ‘this is the way you have to do it, this is how you have the discussion.’ It gives you the tools that you use to integrate into your own lived experiences and discussions with your families,” added Coard.
For more information about One Talk at a Time, visit their website.