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The mission of the march: to shine a light on how racism hurts children.

Editor’s note: This article was updated from its original form in print with additional interview information.

Photo: Screenshot of video from the Children’s March Against Racism, which took place on Sunday, July 5 in Perry Hilltop. Courtesy of Joanna Deming

By Ashlee Green

The Children’s March Against Racism, presented by Taarifa Activism took place on Sunday, July 5 in Perry Hilltop. 

Organized for children and families, the march had a mission of solidarity “against racism and the negative impact it has on young children,” according to an event flyer. In a phone interview with The Northside Chronicle, event organizer Cynthia Battle explained that taarifa means ‘message’ or ‘statement’ in Swahili, and went into more detail about the July march.

“When a child is overlooked in preschool or childcare, or underestimated of their abilities, or not attended to because of their color, they don’t know how to articulate that as ‘this is racist,’ but they feel it,” Battle said.

A community outreach specialist, Battle often works with children and families in schools. She’s witnessed white teachers screaming in Black children’s faces and said it turns her stomach.

“I invite parents to question the people who are watching their children,” Battle said. 

The trauma Black people often first experience as children, she said, accumulates as stress and inflammation, which can ultimately alter the chemicals in their bodies.

A resident of Perry Hilltop, Battle said she chose to organize the march in the Northside because it’s where she went to school and where she lives.

“The community that I live in has a pretty bad reputation, but there are so many people in this community who are awesome and wonderful and critical thinkers and talented…,” she said. “I’ve hosted nine block parties for nine consecutive years in my community. I’ve always wanted to do something right where I live.”

Battles estimated that 75 people showed up for the march, including two women representing Black Lives Matter, Tim Stevens of the Black Political Empowerment Project, and a representative from Rep. Ed Gainey’s office.

“It really touched my heart because so many people understood and they felt what I was trying to say,” said Battle.

Battle said she handed out spray bottles filled with ice water so attendants could keep themselves cool in the 93-degree heat. Project Destiny donated 100 children’s and adult’s masks and a manager from Walmart provided water and snacks. 

Future events are in the works, Battle said, but instead of mass gatherings, they will be discussions on how to have difficult conversations about race.

“I think this is the most physically uncomfortable time, because of the pandemic and because of the Black Lives Matter [movement],” she said. “I think this is the time that we need to dig deep within ourselves and really pull out those uncomfortable things and generate a conversation so that we can all feel comfortable.”

To see the full video from the march, click here.

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