If you are like the thousands of other white women over the past few months, you have been balancing Zoom book clubs on white fragility, becoming Anti-Racist, getting Untamed, or maybe finding your Enneagram type to help you learn how you click and how you can best serve humanity. So did I. But even after all the books and quizzes, I was never able to narrow down my enneagram type (talk about an identity crisis and epic fail there). I highlighted almost half of each page of White Fragility to where the font looks yellow, and sometimes I would have to take WEEKS of a break between reading Untamed because of how raw it was. I even had the honor of being a facilitator for a workshop educating parents on how to become an anti-racist family. We Zoomed, we read, we listened to podcasts, we had discussions, we uncovered some crappy stuff within us and had many uncomfortable conversations.
Our book clubs and workshops did not end racism. We did not learn all we needed to know about how to end white supremacy. We did not solve the question of who we truly are. We didn’t reach the final level of getting untamed. And we did not learn the history we were never told in school.
And nothing we have done brought back George, Ahmed, Breonna, Atatiana, Botham, Philando, Michael, or twelve-year-old Tamir. For their mothers, I wish I could.
All of the work that we have done and will continue to do was done because we demanded it of ourselves. And the work is not over. No trophy and no certificate and no praise – as it should be.
Becoming something is a continuous movement. It is present. Nothing is made “right” – it is made better. The best way to move is forward.
As we prepare to send our children back to school in hazmat suits and masks, internal bias will still be there, and more will rise we did not even realize was there. Racist literature may still linger on a teacher’s shelf, in a 1st-grade reading corner, or the school library. The jokes in the hallways will again be whispered or even shouted proudly while our Brown and Black children will feel they do not have a choice but to be the brunt of racist acts, and our white children will have a choice and opportunities to disrupt the status quo.
So, how do we move from book club notes to anti-racist action and being bold with our children, family members, neighborhoods, and communities? What more can we do to raise actively anti-racist, bold, brave, untamed, unashamed, proud, compassionate, and resilient children?
There are a gazillion websites, memes, videos from reputable sources for you to browse with you and your family as well as books explicitly talking about noticing and valuing color and disrupting racism with your children.
A very informative site I like to frequent is www.Mommybrain.com. They give six challenges for parents in creating an anti-racist home and raising anti-racist children.
- Acknowledge your privilege
- We are talking about white skin privilege. Struggles come in many forms, but with white skin, there will never be one based on that. Learn and talk about other people’s lived experiences compared to your own – from segregated schools to police brutality or (depending on their age) redlining and how Black WWII veterans were excluded from things such as the G.I. Bill, when they returned from WWII. Bring attention to how the treatment is different and how much privilege has afforded white people.
- Continuously check your bias
- Believe me, these are implicit (ones we have no idea we have), but some are explicit (those we know we have and acknowledge). These affect our attitudes, stereotypes, and actions on those of different races. Remember, racism was created to condition you to value one race over others. Continually reject that anytime it comes up. What judgments do you have? What conversations are you engaging in? What truth do you need to replace the lie with?
- Speak Up and Call Out Racism
- If you need permission, here it is. Make a scene. Get Loud. Disrupt. Call it what it is – at the dinner table, in a grocery store, at the zoo, at the park, or with your in-laws. The WORST thing you can do is ignore it or laugh it off. Some phrases you can use are, “That was racist. Please don’t say that again.”, “I am not comfortable with that language. Please stop.”, “Please educate yourself. What you are saying is false.” We need people who hold protest signs but also people to call their Senators, speak to the manager and ask that divisive and racist programming is not being shown in your local restaurants or gyms, or speaking up in a department store or business when you notice or see differences of service or security depending on the skin color of its customers. Kids are watching, listening, and remembering. Be an example.
- Celebrate and Encourage Diversity
- Take an inventory of your children’s literature collection. What representation do you see in superheroes, princess characters, and characters? Are teachers, doctors, presidents, or other leaders of color in any of the stories? Do the same with your toy collection. Remember to make teachable moments during story and play time! Stop the story and ask questions. Point out the differences in skin color, hair, and culture with how awesome it all is. Look at who you are friends with. What children do your kids play with? What dentist do they see? What pediatrician do they have? Do your white children have Black people in leadership in their life? What is the diversity of your child’s school? Do they have any teachers of color or Black teachers? It all matters.
- Learn Black History
- Read books on what we were not told in our history classes. Read beyond slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. Learn about the violence, the lynchings, and all things about systemic racism. Educate yourself on not only what we have done to Black people but what THEY have done for America. Don’t expect or require Black men and women to teach you – It is not their job or their work to do. It is our work to do.
- Listen and do your own research
- When Black men and women tell stories, speak, preach, or engage in sharing personal and lived experiences, listen. Really hear it. Digest it. Believe it. Look at data and do your research on the history of incarceration, policing, education, health, and wealth opportunities.
So, out of all this, what is the take-a-way?
Just show up. Imperfectly show up. We need brave spaces and not safe spaces. Brave spaces make room for questions, corrections, and imperfections. It does not coddle nor allow for any status quo that no longer serves a compassionate purpose. Keep, keep, keep showing up – the imperfect but purpose-driven you.
And disrupt the hell out of racism. It’s time to make a scene, mamas.