Here’s what we know: Bullying isn’t just mere child’s play for our children.
Just last week, we reported that a nine-year-old Alabama girl, McKenzie Adams, committed suicide because she was being teased by her classmates for being Black.
To combat the negative effects of bullying against her child, one Georgia mother is using the gift of song to remind her son that he is special and that his life matters.
In the viral video below, Briana Hampton can be seen singing Major’s “Why I Love You” to comfort her 6-year-old son, Isiah, who is being teased at school for his dark skin.
“My son has been bullied at school and kids have been teasing him about his Darkskin. Me and my husband @_latruth always say Son your handsome and those kids are mad their not you,” Hampton wrote in a caption.
The 26-year-old mother of three added, “Today I found the perfect song to tell my son how much i love him! 😢💔 I love you Isaiah your handsome and chocolate. The lady’s love chocolate men too. Ain’t that right ladies? #latruth #mrslatruth #thehamptons”
HelloBeautiful sat down with Hampton to talk about what prompted this beautiful video, where she believes this type of racist bullying comes from and what parents can do to protect their children.
HelloBeautiful: What was going on with your son to prompt you to make this video?
Briana Hampton: Ever since he’s been going to this new school, which is predominately white, I noticed that he was always complaining about not having any friends. I am not sure what started it, but I kept telling him, “Oh you’re going to make friends, Isiah.”
After that, I would ask him how things were going at school and he said everything was fine, but I knew something was going on. He was always so jolly and happy and then things started to change.
HB: What was the biggest thing that alarmed you about your son’s behavior?
BH: He has an iPhone and I would take all these pictures of him on it, and then one day I noticed that all the photos of him were gone and were replaced with pictures of white boys. So I asked him “Isaiah, where are all the pictures of you? Why are these pictures in here?”
He said to me that he didn’t want to see pictures of himself and that he wanted to be like the white boys and that white people were cooler than him. He also told me that his skin and hair were ugly and that he wanted to change his skin color.
HB: That must have been heartbreaking.
BH: It was. He’s only in kindergarten and he’s never said anything like that before. So I told him, “Isiah, you are beautiful and there is nothing wrong with how you look.”
Soon after, I went to the school and spoke to the teachers and asked them to do a buddy program, and they said they would look into it, but I don’t think it’s working, because he is still saying that he doesn’t have any friends.
I tried to ask who were the people doing this, was it Black kids, was it white kids, who was it. He is so little, he tells me that he doesn’t see color. That, and he doesn’t want to tell me who it is exactly.
But here’s what I know is that racism is taught at home. These children are learning this from their parents, who because Trump’s in office, their attitude is “we can be racist ’cause he gets away with it, so i can too.”
That, and hurt kids hurt other kids. Bullying starts at home too.
HB: Completely. So to combat this racism towards your son, you made this video?
BH: Yes. I have three kids, and I wanted to do something for Isiah and have some one on one time with him to show him how much I love him. And to show him that he is beautiful in his own skin.
HB: The video has now gone viral and has gotten such a beautiful response. Did you ever expect it would be received like this?
BH: Not at all [Laughs.] I didn’t even think my son would respond with crying. I just thought he would laugh. But people have been so great and encouraging. I’ve been showing Isiah all of their comments and videos of other dark skin Black men like LeBron James and Michael Jordan to show them how confident they are with themselves.
I definitely think he had a breakthrough.
HB: That’s so encouraging to hear.
BH: Thank you. I just knew that I had to do something. I recently read that story of that little girl who killed herself and I saw that bullying is real. And to see my own son, depressed at six-years-old, I couldn’t sit back and do nothing. It’s a parents job to build their children up, that has to start at home.
For us, the next steps for my husband and I are working with other parents and teachers to create an anti-bullying campaign at the school to raise awareness.
HB: What’s your advice for parents whose children are being bullied?
BH: First, I would say, keep asking your kids questions about their day and how things are going—and make sure you ask them different types of questions. Also, make sure to get involved in their school lives, pop up at their school, sit in the classrooms and have meetings with their teachers.
Our children are at school more than they are with you during the day, so you need to know what is going on. I know as parents we work a lot and work hard, but it’s important that everyday when we come home from work, we set aside an hour and spend time with our children. They need our love and attention.
Most importantly, pay attention to your child’s behavior, especially if they were happy before and now they don’t want to talk to you or they just want to isolate themselves and spend time alone. You can tell when someone’s energy us off and when it’s changing. If you can tell when your spouse’s energy change, your child isn’t any different.
HB: Final thoughts on what we can do to stop racist bullying?
BH: I just want people to know that like Isiah said, it’s not all about color. We are all people and in order for us to be union, we have to stop looking at what race we are, stop putting each other down and build each other up.
This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.