The last few weeks in the United States have been emotionally taxing. The news is saturated with coverage of the deaths of Rayshard Brooks, Robert Fuller, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other black lives.

Protests — peaceful and violent — are also front and center, and taking place in almost every major city.

Parents strive to keep their children safe and innocent, but it’s becoming increasingly hard, considering their access to media and the ripple effect of police brutality on the black community.

Research shows that even if they aren’t directly affected by it, the mental health of black people suffer as a result of hearing or learning about police killings involving unarmed black Americans.

Research also shows that children begin noticing and expressing color bias as young as 4 years old.

Conversations about race and racism occur before minority children even reach middle school, and because of that, they’re emotionally invested in the pursuit of justice and equality for black lives.

We spoke to several children of color. Here’s what they’d like everyone to know.

Caesar, 10, New Jersey

I think racism is a grudge that could have just been dropped if they didn’t kill George Floyd. I have been thinking that some police can do bad things, but nothing like this. I realize they didn’t think that he had a family and that he wasn’t even judged guilty.

If only racism didn’t exist. If only there was world peace that would last forever.

Keytonio, 14, Georgia

I don’t think George Floyd’s death was fair. Having a badge doesn’t give you a pass to kill someone. Sometimes I feel like I’ll be treated differently because of my skin color, especially if I were to be pulled over by a cop.

Dirk, 16, New Jersey

I feel that some of the violent aspects of the protests are unnecessary, but at the same time, now our voices are finally being heard. I just want them to understand the hardships of being an African American in this country.

Cheo, 10, Pennsylvania

Black Lives Matter means that we are humans like everybody else. We’re not just things to be messed around with. We have emotions, friends, and family. We can make an impact too. Just because of the color of our skin, we are not a different species.

I thought that what happened to George Floyd was really sad and unfair. He didn’t deserve to lose his life. He was handcuffed, he was on the ground, with a knee on his neck. If a white person was in the same situation as he was, the police never would’ve done that.

Alex, 5, Utah

It’s sad what happened to [George Floyd]. It’s okay to have your voice heard. And I wish we didn’t look different.

Kennedy, 6, New Jersey

The white kids at school don’t play with me, but I’d really like to be their friends. I’m fair and I would play with anyone, white or black. We’re all the same.

Vivian, 8, Kansas

I think racism is terrible, scary, upsetting, sad, and unfair. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

I think protests are good and important because they make the bad police officers go to jail so they can’t hurt anyone else. We all miss George Floyd even though we didn’t know him.

Darin, 14, New Jersey

I don’t like that the white police officers are above the law, and I don’t like that one day, as an African American man, I’ll have to fight for my freedom.

Kato, 13, Pennsylvania

I want my white friends to know that black lives matter doesn’t mean that all lives don’t matter. Black people are getting killed when they do nothing to harm anybody, and we need to take that into consideration. An analogy would be if we wanted to save an endangered species. This means that all animals matter, but we should focus on saving this one species before it goes extinct.

I feel like black people aren’t being heard. Even though we have these protests and these hashtags, nothing is changing. The policing system is still corrupted and the government isn’t helping to change the system.

I think peaceful protests are great, but I do have mixed emotions about the looting. Some people have to loot because of their financial situation and it is the only way they can access the goods they need. Looting can be bad because it damages small businesses. The owners of these small businesses are devastated because all of their hard work and sacrifices they made for the business are gone.

London, 14, New Jersey

Just because someone isn’t the same color as you, doesn’t mean you should treat them like they are nothing. These things have happened for way too long, and I hate to see it. I don’t associate myself with racists, but I want them to know that we are protesting because enough is enough.

I’m tired of fearing for my loved ones. Like Tupac says in his song ‘Changes,’ “It’s time for us as a people to start makin’ some changes. Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live, and let’s change the way we treat each other.”

Max, 7, Utah

Why would anyone do that [in response to George Floyd’s death]? Just because someone is different doesn’t make them bad. God made us all different and we should love each other.

Even after the protests are over and 2020 reveals another crazy story, children of color will attend school, play with friends, and play their chosen sports — just like white children.

But they’ll still have the burden of being hypervigilant, passionate, and pragmatic about the pursuit for equality in our country.

Tonya Russell is a freelance journalist covering mental health, culture, and wellness. She’s an avid runner, yogi, and traveler, and she resides in the Philadelphia area with her four fur babies and fiancé. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.