Black History Month/ Black Lives Matter/ Antiracist Parenting
BIPOC friends, we see you, we love you, and we are working every day to create a more anti-racist world. The following post is directed toward the white folks in our community. We will get things wrong. We will likely cause harm. We will take criticism, learn from it, listen to you, and do better. We stand with you.
As white mothers, as many of you, Taylor and I have struggled with finding resources to help us in raising anti-racist kids. During February, we celebrate Black History Month. This year, it seems especially important to focus this month not only on history, but on the Black Lives Matter movement. How do we find resources, how do we share with our kids, without just paying lip-service to those who were a part of creating that history? And even though there are a fair number of resources available, we acknowledge that the ability to access those resources are varied... due to available time, economics, proximity, etc., as well as the fact that many may not even be aware that these resources exist. We behave as if every month is a time to celebrate the diversity of our country and planet, and model to our children anti-racist behaviors.
How do we start raising racially-aware and anti-racist children? First, we delve into our own implicit biases, look at them, get uncomfortable, and know that we will fail a lot. Like the practice of Mindfulness and yoga, practicing anti-racism means looking at our thoughts and behaviors critically, noticing the emotions that come up that are tied to those thoughts and behaviors, and getting to the root of how they came about. It means we need to embrace the idea of being comfortable with discomfort... of learning, growing, being criticized, and being redirected. We have to admit that we live in a communal "soup" of racism, and that to break down that structure, it is not enough to not be racist... we must be actively anti-racist. We must educate ourselves about what that looks like, how it sounds, and how it behaves. We have to learn to recognize it, not just in others, but in ourselves. We must see how insidious a virus it is and actively work toward our own liberation from racist thoughts and actions so that we will be better allies. Like mindfulness and yoga, this internal work of anti-racism is a practice that we must continue to cultivate.
How do we share this work with our children? We first admit to our own humanity, our errors in judgement, and our previous and current mistakes. Then we make sure that our children are reading, listening to, and watching material that is from a variety of voices, from all over the world, and from neighborhoods different from our own. We make sure that when we see racism, we identify it and share with our children what we see and why it is wrong. We have challenging conversations with our children around race, bigotry, and our history as a nation and a culture. We talk about the importance of representation in the things we play with, watch, read and listen to. As parents, we have conversations with our children about how activities that might be appropriate for the white kids might not be for kids of different skin tones. We teach our children to SEE COLOR and to accept, and love, people regardless of their physical appearance. As parents, it is our duty and job to raise children who will make a better world for everyone. You can start right now with the resources, below.
We are not perfect and we know that we will fail and get back up to start again. Just like our mindfulness practice, when we watch our tendencies return to old ways of thinking, we must be diligent in re-routing those thoughts and biases. Over and over again. Not perfection, just progress.
We have compiled a list of resources we have used and viewed, below.
Showing Up for Racial Justice has compiled resources for families on their website here: https://www.surjbayarea.org/family-resources.html
You can check out the podcast "Nice White Parents" on Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/nice-white-parents/id1524080195
Another audio resource for adults is "Seeing White", a limited series, here: http://www.sceneonradio.org/seeing-white/
We found a great list of books to read each month over at Reading Partners. ttps://readingpartners.org/blog/black-history-month-book-list/
USA Today has published a really good resource on books for parents (both nonfiction and fiction), teens, and kids that also includes black-owned bookstores from which to purchase, here: https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/books/2020/06/02/books-to-learn-more-anti-racism-adults-kids/5306873002/
"Off the Shelf" also has a wonderful list of books for adults. https://offtheshelf.com/2020/02/black-authors-black-history-month-books/
Embrace Race has some great talking points and tools for conversations with your family, here: https://www.embracerace.org/resources/16-ways-to-help-children-become-thoughtful-informed-and-brave-about-race?gclid=CjwKCAiAjeSABhAPEiwAqfxURYkxd79e7kZGdIahHCdolKpOS3YsPlVE72h_O6TMKWzlNjuI2LK7hBoCmcsQAvD_BwE