Nickelodeon, the children’s TV network, honored George Floyd and stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protestors by going off the air on Monday night. 8 minutes and 46 seconds—that’s the exact amount of time that a police officer kneeled on Floyd’s neck while he said he couldn’t breathe on May 25. That’s also the exact amount of time that Nickelodeon played breathing sounds while the words “I can’t breathe” appeared on a black screen.

The vast majority of people who voiced their opinions online praised Nickelodeon’s powerful statement. However, as with any sensitive subject, there were some holdouts. Some parents complained about the network’s video. They said that, in their opinion, the blackout clip was frightening and claimed that their kids are too young to be part of the conversation about race and police brutality.

Bored Panda reached out to 19-year-old Brazilian-American Gustavo Domingues, aka Upmind, one of the people who praised Nickelodeon and shared their opinion about parents who complained about the network’s actions. Scroll down for our interview with Gustavo, a sports and e-sports broadcaster who’s based in Boston, Massachusetts. We also reached out to former pro wrestler Patrick Scott Patterson who has been having discussions with his kids about topics like racism since they began socializing with others. Bored Panda also talked to teacher Catrice Thomas who has an 8-year-old daughter. Scroll down to the very end of our post for her in-depth comments.

Nickelodeon publicly supported Black Lives Matter and George Floyd

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After going off the air, Nickelodeon showed a video with their declaration of kids’ rights

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All of Viacom’s networks went off the air on Monday night

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Image credits: DailyNickNews

“Growing up, I was always infatuated with Nickelodeon and Viacom’s usage of silent broadcasts to raise awareness for various subjects. Such as World Wide Day of Play, and most recently, solidarity with Parkland students. When I saw this on social media, I wasn’t surprised that they took action, but the way they did it certainly shocked me to say the very least,” Gustavo told us. “It’s a far cry from what they have done before, but it serves the overall message and conversation they were trying to start with America’s youth.”

A lot of people supported Nickelodeon honoring Floyd

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In Upmind’s opinion, Nickelodeon can start a precedent for other networks, so that they too can express solidarity on important and newsworthy topics.

“Nickelodeon has proven in the past that they are African American allies, with shows like Kenan and Kel and their celebration of Black History Month, every year on both Nick and their younger platforms like Nick Jr.,” Gus said. “This ‘I can’t breathe’ campaign has solidified the support of POC, and I hope that other networks follow in their path. Maybe not in the shocking nature that they did with the heavy breathing, but meaningful pauses like they did with the Kids’ Rights campaign.”

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“This exchange should be had at this pivotal part of a child’s development”

Gustavo firmly believes that no child is born racist. “At a younger age (0-4 years old), kids can’t exactly perceive hate or prejudice to other races. At age 5 however is a time where you can begin to have simple conversations with your children that can at least prepare them for situations that they see at school or on television,” he shared his opinion about when parents ought to start talking to their kids about sensitive issues.

“Non-white parents should warn their kids that hateful people exist and that they should set an example for others that hate based on the color of skin is wrong and everyone should be nice to each other, regardless of race,” he said. “As the son of an Afro-Latino, my father wasn’t able to teach me these lessons early on in my life, but slowly at an older age (9 or 10), he told me stories of racism against him here in the United States, and how I should never follow that example.”

Upmind added that he considers himself to still be very young in the grand scheme of things, so he says he can’t confidently answer how the conversation about racism and police brutality between parents and children should go. “But I believe that this exchange should be had at this pivotal part of a child’s development,” he added.

“I don’t feel it’s something you shelter them from”

“I was happy to hear that Nick was among the many media outlets doing it. We live in a world today where too many try to tune out the news and this is too important to do that with. It was making people think and talk about racial injustice in America,” former wrestler Patrick said. “Given the younger audience, I honestly hope it forced the conversation to happen between kids and parents in places where it wasn’t already happening. This is a sad reality in America and, in my opinion, you can’t shelter people from it. The only way you can hope it improves is to talk about it and that includes children.”

Patrick also revealed what the situation in his family was like: “In our home, we were having these discussions with our kids from their first years talking and socializing with others. I won’t tell parents what the ‘best ways’ to get through to their particular children are, but I don’t feel it’s something you shelter them from. The sooner they learn to treat everyone as peers and equals, the less chance there is of them being influenced to treat people differently by other people.”

Some people thought that Nickelodeon was wrong to do this

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Nickelodeon is part of Viacom and all of its other channels like Comedy Central and MTV also went off the air on June 1, 2020, at 6 p.m. ET to demonstrate their support for justice, equality, and human rights.

After the video ended, Nickelodeon then played a video where they listed their declaration of kids’ rights.

“You have the right to be seen, heard, and respected as a citizen of the world. You have the right to a world that is peaceful. You have the right to be treated with equality, regardless of the color of your skin. You have the right to be protected from harm, injustice, and hatred. You have the right to an education that prepares you to run the world. You have the right to your opinions and feelings, even if others don’t agree with them,” Nickelodeon stated.

But most people supported Nick and said that those criticizing the network were wrong to do so

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Catrice started out by saying that she’s sharing her own experience and that her point of view might not represent all black parents. “I teach in and my daughter attends a majority white but diverse school system, and I can assure you that there are different challenges for black girls and black boys,” she said, pointing out that the way she approaches parenting her daughter is different than what she’d do if she had a son.

“We don’t have live TV, so the first time I heard about it was on Twitter. Like many of the comments, I do remember growing up with Nickelodeon and them putting forth the effort to demonstrate positive citizenship and help unify,” Catrice said.

“So it was no surprise to me to hear that they did something… but the actual action they took was amazing! That was a stance. That is how you start a conversation. You can’t ignore it. And if you were inconvenienced during those minutes, imagine you never being able to move on after that. Imagine not being able to see your family after that. Were you uncomfortable? Were you in pain? Why did you say? Were you able to go back to business as normal?”

“There is a right and a wrong and there are a lot of people who have to admit that they are wrong”

In Catrice’s opinion, Nickelodeon is on the right side of history. “There are situations where people’s beliefs can take them down one path or another, but the dismantling of systematic racism is not one of those situations. There is a right and a wrong and there are a lot of people who have to admit that they are wrong,” she said.

“But that is a painful process and the system was built so that white people should not have to feel pain in regards to race. You may feel pain from other things. You may be poor; you may face discrimination due to your gender or sexual orientation; because of your religion or the neighborhood that you grew up in. But you won’t face pain due to your race as a member of the United States. You are the normal—the standard and it’s everyone else’s job to conform to you.”

“She, like so many black people, will pick up the burden of perfectionism”

Catrice said that her 8-year-old daughter knows that her life will be filled with different expectations and experiences as she grows up. “I have always made sure that she sees herself beyond the mirror. We watch TV shows that have black main characters. We read books about girls that look like her. We talk about our hair and skin tone.”

She continued: I remember, one time she went to her soccer game and I had her hair in an afro. She was the only black on her team and one of her teammates came up and told her her hair was wild (in a negative way). I jumped in to educate. ‘Of course, her hair isn’t wild. It’s beautiful! And I l love how I can do so many different styles with it. It’s magical. And she looks gorgeous!’ He smiled and then started to agree. Parents jumped in to agree too. I’d like to think the teammate may think about that next time he sees someone with hair like that and that the parents would as well.”

Catrice told Bored Panda that she talks to her daughter about how she might not be able to do some of the same things that her classmates may be able to. “Unfortunately, she, like so many black people, will pick up the burden of perfectionism where in order to be seen and valued—especially in majority-white spaces—you have to be perfect; no room for error. And, trust me, that’s a heavy burden carry until you learn to drop it.”

“When you play, talk about race”

“She asks questions about why people say and do certain things against black people. She still struggles with the idea that some people don’t value you just because you’re black. When your child starts to recognize beauty, talk about race. Don’t do that color-blind stuff. Would you only use one crayon from the box to draw a beautiful landscape? No, so please see the beauty in my skin, too. When you draw beautiful pictures, pull out the brown and dark tan crayons for some of those stick figures!” she shared some advice about how parents can talk to kids about race.

“When you play, talk about race. Play with dolls and action figures of different shades. Make sure you buy the Princess Tiana and Black Panther costumes to go along with the others. Have playdates and read books,” she added. However, the topic of police brutality is far more difficult to approach.

“We want all kids to know that police should be their friends. They are there to help them, but we know that’s not the case for all. I tell my daughter that there are good ones and bad ones, but we never know which ones are going to show up,” Catrice explained. “Since we have this belief that police are inherently good, it just means that when they hurt someone, that person was doing something bad. That’s why we get the ‘well, what did he/she do?’ response.”

The mom tells her daughter that this injustice is rooted in racial injustice. “Like many black parents, I have to tell her how to behave around police officers because they may not know how to behave around her. I think parents need to study. Stop putting your life experiences on me because they’re not the same. We can all agree that the rich live differently from the poor. Men live differently from women. So why is it so hard to believe that Black people have a different life experience?” Catrice shared her thoughts.