Being (White) Anti-Racist

Being (White) Anti-Racist

Lewis “Big June” Marshall Carrying the U.S. Flag, Selma to Montgomery March, March 21, 1965. Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

For so many parents, I’d say the majority- teaching your child to be thoughtful, kind, and respectful is a priority. In my house, I’d say that is a top priority. We always refer to the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” That’s our house motto. If my child, Zen, stands up to a bully in school, or does something that represents the teaching of the Golden Rule, I’m instantly fueled with excitement knowing I taught him that. It’s working. He’s treating other people the way they way he would want to be treated – he’s a voice for good.

Let me explain something to you – the Golden Rule is great. It’s beyond great. But it’s only a starting point for greatness. It’s applicable to every situation in life. BUT let’s break this down – if you were being obviously and historically mistreated, emotionally drained, and secluded because of the color of skin, wouldn’t you want someone to help you first? Is that not the way you’d hope to be treated by your peer? The Golden Rule is an excellent motto, but it isn’t effective without applying common sense and empathy. It isn’t powerful without the logical analyzation of your surroundings – and who your attention should be focused on. You should be expanding the concept of the Golden Rule beyond your convenient boundaries. You can’t say that you practice what you preach if you are only practicing in your social circle, and turning your face when justice is calling beyond that.

The Golden Rule is easy to apply when you’re having an easy conversation. But, it’s revolutionary when it’s applied to oppressed people. It’s revolutionary when we push boundaries to do what is actually right in order of urgency. It’s revolutionary when it’s actually not about us. It’s revolutionary when you stop and actually listen. If you haven’t caught on, I’m referring to racism.

Why is it that we without question praise our kids for standing up to bullies when they’re making fun of other kids, but feel this cloud of stigma over our kids standing up to racism? Why is standing up to racism not embedded in the morality we’re teaching our (white) kids? Why are we not equipping them with knowledge on how to use their white privilege to protect others? Why are we not facing the truth, and changing the dynamic of the future? Why are we scared of educating our kids based on the fact that white people have created a nightmare for black people in our country? Why aren’t we letting our kids know they must learn the past, and understand their responsibility to change the future?

When it comes to racism in America, it’s real. It’s literally, and historically real. To deny it, is to deny the pain so many black people have faced and still face living in this country. It’s denying their ancestors the inhumane pain they’ve had to live through for no damn good reason. It’s denying that there are communities that were designed to continue cycles of poverty, and low income for black people. Slavery was “abolished” 155 years ago – but that in no way means the battles are over. That means many Americans today have second or third generation family members that were enslaved. On the other hand, some former slaveholder Americans have years upon years building their legacies and economic empires. Black people were enslaved longer than they have been free. For some more perspective, Martin Luther King would be ninety one if he were still alive today. NINETY ONE!!!! I’m sure some of you have/had grandparents, or great grandparents that are that age. Better yet, why don’t you ask them about their personal experience with segregation, and racism in America? It was not LONG AGO. In fact, it was only fifty seven years ago that Martin Luther King and 250,000 people participated in the March On Washington for Jobs and Freedom which is where the iconic “I Have A Dream” speech was born.

“I wish my white friends knew what it was like to have the color of your skin be one of the most defining aspects of your existence, and that they could walk around in my skin for a day. Then, they would experience the prejudice and microaggressions that we face on a daily basis… All we want is equality, not revenge; your quality of life will not be negatively impacted if ours is improved.” -Yende Magnum, age 17.

Even after having a black president in the United States, which is technically the highest office in the land, black people still fail to see equality in America. They’re still segregated in modern day systems, and they’re still targeted by police to name a few. If you want to look at it from a more generic scale – they’re constantly facing forms of microaggressions, prejudice and biases thanks to a country that fears addressing equality whole-heartedly. It has simply never been possible for them to find equality in this country.

I shouldn’t have to convince you racism is real (BUT HERE’S A RESOURCE POST I CREATED AND WILL BE UPDATING REGULARLY BASED ON MY RESEARCH AND FINDINGS). Get on google, do some research and you will find FACTS. This is based on FACTS. There is no need for your opinion. It is FACTUAL. It is also factual that these topics have been conveniently pushed aside in American education. Honestly, you don’t have to dig deep to read information that will leave you mortified. Even on IG there is so much triggering information available that will create an undeniable passion in you to stop racism. According to the American Psychological Association, seventy eight percent (3 in 4) black adults agreed their race makes it difficult to live in today’s society.

“In a racist society, it is not enough to be nonracist — we must be anti-racist.”- Angela Davis

Listen, if you are not black, your white privilege can be used as a tool to become an ally. White privilege is absolutely real, and it’s ok to feel shame about it – but there’s no time to dwell on that. Instead use those feelings to speak up and fight against racism. Claiming you’re not racist is not going to change anything. You must activate your anti-racism to make any difference. You claiming you’re not racist, and stopping there is an excuse that is further harming people who are tired.

“White privilege is the fact that if you’re white, your race will almost certainly positively impact your life’s trajectory in some way. And you probably won’t even notice it.”

I know for a fact I’ve gotten hired based on how I looked and not my qualifications. I know for a fact as a teenager I was probably up to no good at certain times and no one looked twice because I was a young white girl. I know for a fact I have never dealt with the way I look holding me back from an opportunity. I have had the benefit of the doubt in every situation I’ve ever put myself in – Ive been able to lie, and not questioned about it. I have never had to worry that someone would stop me and ask to check my bag, I’ve never been pulled over and felt fear, I’ve never had to explain why I was perfect for a job, I’ve never had to work harder for something I already deserved. Don’t tell me white privilege isn’t real.

Use your white privilege as a tool to further push equality. Speak up when something is wrong, stand up to racist white people, and educate white people around you about injustice. If you’re a business owner, diversify your team, if you’re a parent, and see racism in your child’s school – do something about it. Listen to black people, and realize you really have no idea what they’ve been through and will continue to go through. Have compassion. We’ve been conditioned to ignore black pain. For centuries. Open your eyes and ears and tap into black stories. To start, it can be as easy as a Netflix documentary, or a podcast.

You cannot lynch me and keep me in ghettos without becoming something monstrous yourselves. And furthermore, you give me a terrifying advantage. You never had to look at me. I had to look at you. I know more about you than you know about me.” -James Baldwin

White people were in fact monsters in their inhumane actions. Recognize that and strive for change. Being anti-racist will be hard work. There will be times when you are wrong, and you must be open to changing your opinion. Black people know more about us than we know about them. That is because we have lived with the choice of ignorant bliss. We have been able to choose our involvement in fighting for human rights – while they have fought to survive in a world of white supremacy. We can’t expect black people to educate us, and have sympathy for us during our (late) learning process. We must be held accountable, and educate ourselves on everything from the horrors of slavery, to the irreplaceable wonders and essence of black culture.

Regardless of who you are, or what age you are, or what stage of life you’re in, I guarantee there are facts that will strike a nerve. There are facts that will encourage you to fight for the oppressed if you have even an ounce of empathy. Off the top of my head – I’ll list some injustices that I haven’t been able to wrap my head around. Did you know that enslaved women were forced to breastfeed white babies which led their own babies to starve? Did you know that thanks to historical racism in the healthcare industry, black, brown, and indigenous women are three to four times more likely to die from childbirth related issues today? Now, can you imagine being a mother who is living in constant fear of her baby being racially profiled? This is all REAL. Generations of people who have experienced trauma, despair, and unjust treatment is all too real to be overlooked.

We want to teach our kids facts. We want them to be educated. They need to be educated on racism. It’s a part of their country’s history, and they won’t learn that in school. Mainstream society will continue to push White heroism and lack of black representation in entertainment and media.They will see racism, discrimination, and bias throughout the years but won’t have education on it if you’re not that source for them. How can we expect them to act against racism if they haven’t been taught how? I am part of a family of five. That’s five more people to add to the fight of dismantling racism. Here are some of the methods/tips I’ll be using when addressing racism with my family.

Tell The Truth:

Keep it simple and factual. We tell our kids the truth about a lot of things. Usually the harder things to explain, are best told to kids factually or as close to that as possible (I’ve linked an article that breaks down how to talk to your kids based on age). Be open, and ask your child if they know what racism is. Talk to them about how they feel. Remember that children as early as three months of age are able to identify people who look differently than them. DON’T try to apply the “colorblind” concept. “Being colorblind creates a society that denies negative racial experiences, rejects cultural heritage, and invalidates perspectives of people of color that are unique.” (From Dayton Children’s Article linked below). Your child is intelligent, and obviously can see the differences between people, and how they look. “There is an assumption that kids are taught to be racist… Research shows that kids naturally develop racial prejudice unless their parents or teachers directly engage with them about it.” (Article Here) When our kids ask us why someone’s skin color is different, we need to take those moments as opportunities to teach them rather than ‘shush’ them. This sends the message that race is something to be talked about. When we shush them away, they’re bound to create their own answers and may potentially fill in those blanks with made up prejudices. “Stop being weird about race, the more we talk about it, and see color, the more it gets normalized” says LaNesha Tabb who is an educator specializing in teaching parents to talk with their kids about race and racism. Don’t ask your child to turn their face away from different colors, but embrace them to celebrate their history and diversity.

If we expect our kids to fill in the blanks of what makes something racist, we’re failing at teaching them to be anti-racist. We need to be explicit with them in regards to what is racism.

Kids have mental strength, and clarity where we have weakness. “Good vs. Bad” is an easy concept for them to understand (It’s funny some of us can’t grasp something so simple). Don’t overthink it. Racism is bad. Racism, even without bad intention is harmful, and we need to correct ourselves as well as our children.

Teach Them Love

I’ll never forget a conversation I had with some black friends who were part of a civil rights organization a couple years ago. I was on edge about asking this question – “How do I teach my child about racism, and people who look different than them?” I felt uncomfortable asking (looking back I now realize I was asking someone who had been oppressed to educate me, which is not their responsibility), but I went for it anyway because I truly wanted to raise socially conscious and non racist kids. One of their answers was so shocking to me. She said : “Teach them love.” I felt like the question I asked was fully loaded. I was honestly afraid she might laugh in my face because I even asked something like that. But, she made it so clear and simple. Teach your kid to love. She didn’t need to say much more, and that sentence will always speak volumes to me. Teach them to love everyone, every person, every color, every gender, every human being deserves to be treated with love. WOW. Teach your child LOVE, so that they may be examples of it. It honestly is an infinite concept full of abundance and power and everything good. Teach them love.

For the sake of contrast, another perspective you can use is explaining that anything representing racism, or racist language is spreading hate. If they don’t participate in stopping or speaking up against racism – they’re simply spreading more hate. Not acting is not an option – staying silent is spreading hate, and standing up to racism is spreading love.

I want to add that teaching anti-hate in general is also extremely important. This includes anti- hate for the LGBTQ+ community which is largely discriminated against from all races. If you are human, and alive – you deserve love, and equality. Equality should not be limited, period. You can’t fight for equality for one group of people – and not another.

Practice

Practice your anti-racism. Your kids look up to you, this is not new. Be anti-racist. Make sure you’re identifying your own biases and working on them. Have open conversations with your kids about when you see racism happening, and how you can or did change it. Read books, and watch films to educate yourself further on how to be a teacher for your kids. You will be a better role model, and educator if you feel equipped with knowledge to back up any conversations, or topics. Read books and watch films that are age appropriate for your kids written by black authors or film makers. Point out racism, or lack of diversity in movies you watch together.

I’ve listed some movies below you can watch together. I loved watching Black Panther with my kids. I remember seeing that movie, and feeling admiration for all of the beautiful black and brown people that were casted. Clearly my kids felt the same admiration. They thought black panther was bad a**, and he quickly became their favorite superhero. I remember thinking about how there were never any black superheroes or figures to look up to when I was a kid. I was so excited to see my kids rocking Black Panther t-shirts & wanting all of his action figures. It was refreshing to see them idolizing a black character who was proud in his identity as someone powerful & full of leadership.

Share your personal stories. Let your kids know anti-racist work is hard, and there are times where they will feel like they’ve failed. Explain to them that it is ok to make mistakes. It is ok to be uncomfortable, and learn new things/perspectives. We can only advocate so much – we are not living the black/brown experience. Encourage and inspire your kids by letting them know the future is theirs, and they have the power to make significant change. Remember that being anti-racist, and raising anti-racist children is a long term commitment – let’s teach them to love, and work to finally manifest equality in America.

Mark 12:31

“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

This topic was very uncomfortable for me to post about. Honestly, I still feel like I’m working my way through understanding how to appropriately talk/write about this subject. I am still learning myself. What is bigger than my worries – is racism in America. I hope this post is an inspiration for you to continue your fight against racism, or begin it. It’s not about you, or me – I know I have benefited from white privilege in my life, and I’m using it now to be an ally. Aside from being a mother, I am a Christian, and my beliefs simply go against any form of discrimination or hate.

-E

Resources:

Systemic Inequality, Slavery in America, Racism Bias and Discrimination Resources, Raising an Anti-Racist Child, Black Mothers Keep Dying After Birth, White Privilege, White Privilege Story, Story of an Ally, Segregation in United States, The Worry of The Black American Mother, What White People Don’t Understand About Racism, AMAZING ARTICLE ABOUT ANTIRACIST KIDS

Books to Read:

“The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America” – Richard Rothstein

“Brown Girl Dreaming” – Jacqueline Woodson

“Freedom Is a Constant Struggle” – Angela Y. Davis

“My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter” – Aja Monet

“So You Want to Talk About Race” by Ijeoma Oluo

“The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration In The Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander

“White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism” by Robin DiAngelo

Films to Watch:

13th

When They See Us

Selma

Explained: The Racial Wealth Gap

I Am Not Your Negro

The Color Purple

Do The Right Thing

The Five Heartbeats

Macolm X

Fruitvale Station

Straight Outta Comptom

Blackkklansman

Just Mercy

Boyz N Da Hood

Loving

Detroit

Books For your Kids:

The Civil Rights Movement – Nancy Ohlin

Antiracist Baby – Ibram X. Kendi

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

I Am Enough – Grace Byers

Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children – Sandra L. Pinkey

Grandpa, Is Everything Black Bad? – Sandy Lynne Holman

A is for Activist – Innosanto Nagara

Movies to Watch With Your Kids

Annie (Remake 2014)

Home

A Wrinkle in Time

Black Panther

Karate Kid (2010)

Akeelah and The Bee

Remember the Titans

Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse

The Color of Friendship

Cool Runnings

42

The Watsons go to Birmingham



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