As people continue to protest in the aftermath of George Floyd's death and a long history of systemic racism and police brutality in the United States, TODAY co-host Hoda Kotb spoke with kids about racism and the Black Lives Matter movement. Not only was their interview eye-opening, but it was amazing to see that children are not giving up and, despite their age, they're using their voices to fight for justice.
On Monday, the TODAY show co-host sat down for a video interview with several young people, between the ages of 10 to 15, who she explained "have a way of seeing things more clearly" and described the children she spoke to as "tomorrow's leaders." Her guests included 10-year-old Rosalie, who wore her favorite Black Lives Matter hoodie, seventh-grade friends Logan, Josh, and Aiden, and 15-year-old Marley Dias. Young Marley has been hard at work trying to help educate young people on the lives of Black girls since 2016, when she started a campaign to get 1,000 books about Black girls into schools in her home state of New Jersey, according to The Guardian.
She didn't stop there. When Kotb asked Marley for her reaction to the protests, she spoke with a wisdom well beyond her years. "The moment that we're living in is kind of frustrating because it feels as though it's an attack on people that look like me," she said. "Which is really scary and disappointing."
Kotb went on to speak to young Aiden, who said he feels "endangered." "Like I'm being hunted because I'm different," he said. "And I find that just unacceptable." Aiden told Kotb that his parents have rules for him when he leaves the house: "Be careful, know your rights, and never disrespect a police officer."
Aiden's friend Logan further explained that he thinks people are protesting "police brutality" and said his father, who is Black, told him that he will not understand "what it's like to be a Black man until you walk a mile in my shoes." The young boy added, "He said it because I really didn't understand what was going on."
Marley talked about her own first experience with racism in elementary school focused on her hair. "A lot of the kids at school would say that it was taking up too much space, and they wanted me to sit in the back, or that it was dirty," she said.
Rosalie, who quickly piped up that she loved Marley's hair, told of a situation she witnessed as a non-Black person at summer camp. "I saw some people from a different cabin. They were saying they didn't want to play with some people because of their race." She admitted that she didn't speak up and now regrets it.
And this is exactly how kids can be forces for change. A group of kids sharing their experiences and, what's more, listening to each other. This is the hope we can carry. That kids are going to make things better in ways we have not.