Updated: Jun 20, 2020
I am so happy to start this blog journey again! My blog will be full of parenting tips, moments with my kiddos, and occasionally some marriage advice. But as we sit in the middle of a Pandemic, America is also facing the epidemic of racism. I cannot launch a blog full of hearts and butterflies as America is literally and figuratively on fire. So I decided to dedicate my first post to the Black Lives Matter revolution and offer resources for parents who want to talk about racism with their children but don't know-how. I believe that the vaccine for racism is how we raise the next generation of children. Now is not the time to be silent. They must know they were alive during the revolution and that their parents stood on the right side of history.
You are probably watching the news and shielding your children from the sites and sounds. Sobbing in private to avoid exposing them to the pain and guilt you are feeling. But I assure you, in many Black households we are not shielding our children, because we can't! I do not show my children any videos of the brutality that is happening, but I do talk to them about the murders that are happening. I don't let them see every tear, but they have seen me weep. The painful truth is Black children must learn about the harsh reality of being Black in America at an early age. If you don't believe that to be true, read about Tamir Rice.
Now I know it might feel like a lot to ask you to expose your kids to racism, but their "Black" friend is already exposed. Teaching them early to see the difference and appreciate it will make them a better friend. Remember that your sweet baby will grow up to be a doctor, lawyer, postal worker, or politician. Every job requires leaders and team members who want to live, play, and work in a world that values diversity, believes in equity, and will sacrifice for inclusion.
You might be thinking, "hell, I can't talk to my kid about race and racism. I am still learning." I get it, but you have figured out "new math" and I believe you can figure this out, too. I know you want to be a good parent, I do too, but we must admit that we have work to do. Here are a few resources for you to do the proverbial work--
Black Lives Matter Meditations From Dr. Candice Nicole: "Black Lives Matter Meditation for Healing Racial Trauma" and "Ally + Accomplice Meditation for Cultivating an Anti-Racist Mindset."
Now back to the kids!
I love your kids, and my home will always be a place that feels like a warm hug. They will see art on our walls that reflect Black Excellence. They will watch movies with strong Black leads, and if it during Kwanzaa, they will definitely learn the principle of the day. But my home cannot be the only place that they see these things. I am not telling you to go out and buy pictures of Black people to hang in your home, but I am telling you to hop on the computer and teach them about the beauty of Black culture. Drive to your local museum and walk with them, and the most important thing is to tell them that Black history started long before slavery!
My Top Six Things You Can Do on Your Journey to Raise Anti-Racist Kids--
Read Diverse Books
Do you remember the Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program? Or was that just a North East Ohio thing? Well, the point is they were right. Reading is fundamental! Read books that have Black characters and other people of color. It is the easiest way to start the conversation. Brightly has a great list of books to read, and they are broken down by age group. I just purchased a book for my kids called The Power Book we are only a few sections in, but I like it so far. It has allowed us to have conversations around power.
Allow Yourself to Feel Uncomfortable
I was on a call discussing racism with people from work, and it got a little uncomfortable ( I call this the cusp of breakthrough). As the call started to get uncomfortable, I shared with the group that disenfranchised people are often uncomfortable. I have been in many spaces throughout my life where I have been the only Black, Woman, Mother...you name it. I can share a lot of situations with you that have caused me to be uncomfortable. You will feel uncomfortable because you are stretching new muscles, and your children will ask you some hard questions, but in the end, it will be for the greater good.
Talk About Race
Black is not a word you have to whisper. Your kids should here you openly talking about race and modeling good behavior. Kids don't come out of the womb racist; they learn it from what they see and hear. If grandpa is still making Black jokes, it is time to show your kids how to respond. But if you let it slide, they will let it slide on the playground (no pun intended) and in life. We talk about race all the time in our home, the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are things that I know my kids are too young to process, so I make it kid-appropriate, and we dive into the conversation. One kid is not interested at all, and that is okay, but he knows that he can talk to us when he is interested.
Show Your Emotions
Raise your hand if you are a shower cry warrior. ME TOO! I hate when people see me cry, but I have allowed my son and daughter to see the tears fall as I read an article. It tells them that it is okay to cry and that things that are happening are painful. They also hear our anger and then see us take action! Figure out your balance, but emotions are human.
Enlarge Your Circle
Do not, I repeat, do not go out looking for a Black friend! That is racist. But put yourself in spaces that are less White. Find community organizations to get involved in, try sports teams in the city, visit libraries, and support the employee resource groups. Look for professional development opportunities that will challenge you and amplify voices of color.
Now back to those resources I promised--They are actually in a link above, but if you didn't click it to learn about the work you can do for yourself, here they are--
Resources for white parents to raise anti-racist children:
We use a lot of educational websites for learning and I was very pleased to see resources on Brain Pop
Shameless plug here, my family is starting a podcast called "Hey Black Child" That will share stories of American history through a Black lens. Release date TBD!
I don't have all the answers and be leery of anyone who claims to have them all. You can buy the doll, but buy the book and read too. Dig deep and find your humanity, and be applaud that we are still discussing racism in 2020.
Please don't let my children's legacy be a hashtag or another headline
Fight for inclusion! If you are scared to go down to the protest because of COVID, have your kids make signs that you can give to someone going. Create your own demonstration right in your front yard! Have your kids make signs and stand up for injustice.