Street Art and Hard Conversations:: The Family Field Trip I Didn’t Know We Needed

Street Art and Hard Conversations:: The Family Field Trip I Didn't Know We Needed

Four months. It’s been four months since Spring Break went rogue and the world as we know it, see it, and experience it changed. Four months since parents and teachers across the world turned on a dime and became crisis schoolers. Four months our cabin-fever ridden family has been pulling out all the stops to stay entertained and sane. We have done all the crafts, played all the games, done science experiments, created scavenger hunts, had family movie nights, and {honestly} banished the screen time limits. And it got me thinking…since my kids were old enough to walk, most of our outings and family plans involved explicitly kid-centric activities. It was just two weeks ago I decided we were going to do something I wanted to do. Enter forced family field trip, mom’s way.

One thing I love about living in Houston is the rich and diverse art culture at our fingertips. I have always adored a day in the museum district, hours strolling through exhibits, being surrounded by color, patterns and textures, immersed in an artist’s story and experiences. Oh, I miss it! I knew an art museum wasn’t an option right now, but I was still determined to get out of the house and show my kids some of the unique beauty of our city. I wanted a one stop shop, somewhere we could park and explore street art in Houston, so I decided we would visit the Leeland Street Graffiti Park.

It was hot outside. I knew there was a good chance that at least 66.67% of my children would protest {they did}. But, packed with water bottles and music just loud enough to drown out the whines, we set off for our street art adventure.

George Floyd street art

Upon arrival, the oohs and aahs of the brilliance of the buildings was immediately satisfying. The irritation of interrupted Netflix binges gave way to a wide-eyed, treasure-seeking curiosity. They were intrigued and amazed by the sheer task of painting, the techniques, and the stories that unfolded on the walls. What happened next, though, was something I wasn’t expecting, and something I am so thankful for.

“I can’t breathe”… my youngest child reads on a wall, where it is vibrantly displayed in a mural with a portrait of George Floyd. “Why would they paint that?”

A little way down my middle kid reads “I am Ahmaud. Can I run here? Why would they paint that?”

Just around the corner they see an homage to Black Lives Matter.

“Why do they have to paint that?”

My 13-year-old and I have had many conversations about the long-standing history of racism in America, but it hasn’t been a subject that I have addressed straightforwardly with my younger children. But as they looked at the street art, they kept asking, “Why?” we talked about it. Imperfectly, but honestly. We talked about public murders, abuse of power, how hate is still the standard, and even celebrated, in many homes. We talked about the privilege we have, how I don’t have to suggest a change of clothes to my sons to make them they appear less suspicious, how I don’t fear for my life when I get pulled over for a ticket or go for a run. We talked about shining love and light and standing up for what’s right.  We talked with a candor that set us up for future conversations that must continue to happen.

Because it’s been two weeks since this stopped trending.

Less than a month since Rayshard Brooks was gunned down.

Just over a month since George Floyd called out to his mother for the last time.

Four months since Breonna Taylor was murdered while sleeping.

Almost five months since Ahmaud Arbery went for a run he wouldn’t return from.

Eleven months since Elijah McClain was tackled and injected with ketamine for breathing while black.

155 years since Juneteenth. 155 years of people of color fighting to really be free.

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  1. Great that you had a good art field trip! Exploring street art with my kids is one of my favorite things to do (well, I am also an art educator). I took them to see the George Floyd mural in the Third Ward when it first went up (and also had tough but important conversations with my 9 and 7 year old).

    We’ve been to the MFAH a few times now. It is very empty (when we visited), and they have great COVID-19 safety protocols in place. They also have an important art exhibition up right now (through sometime in August) that is very relevant to what is happening – Soul of a Nation. Go see it if you can!

    -Tara of Four Take Flight

    • AP, In many homes, yes I do. I recognize that there are many parents who are working to ensure that the next generation will not experience this, but I believe there are still many who refuse to acknowledge there is a problem, and others still who proliferate it.


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