This year has brought us constant change and the drive to change. Living in the horrific nightmare of the COVID-19 global health pandemic has been challenging to all aspects of our personal and collective lives. And in the last few weeks most Americans have been shaken to their very core, with the staunch reminder that the racial injustice pandemic that Black Americans have been plagued with for centuries is still very much alive today.
During these last few weeks, we have spent a significant amount of our time and energy listening and reading, which is why posts here have been paused. We strongly believe that it was time for us to silence ourselves to learn and listen, and frankly, unlearn a lot.
After a number of requests of how we teach anti-racism to our children, we curated a slim outline of what we have found and continue to find. Since we believe that it is so critical to instill change first in ourselves before expanding to our family as a whole, we wanted to share a glimpse of what our learning and unlearning journey has been for ourselves and our family so far. While we hope that this a good place to start, we encourage others to forge their own path so as to experience and feel for themselves.
For the Parent
If you want to make real change in your family, and have tough conversations with your children, you need to first start listening, learning and doing the work yourself. Do the work. For anyone paying attention these last few weeks, you have certainly heard this phrase. As most anti-racist educators have shared, they are not readily available for your inquiries and questions. They have already written thorough and educated literature on these topics. Please do your own work.
If you are feeling vulnerable on this topic and still not sure where to start/dive in deeper, below is our outline for you to fill in as it best fits you and your families needs:
Read & Listen: There are a plethora of thoughtful anti-racist educators to learn from. Below are a few leading voices on racial justice that have powerful and insightful resources.
Learn, Relearn & Unlearn: Take notes while reading and listening. Identify areas in your personal life and community where you can learn, unlearn and educate. Ground yourself in this humbling quote by Brené Brown: “I’m here to get it right, not be right.”
Be Vulnerable and Sit in the Uncomfortable: Doing this is so hard. You may discover areas of your belief system that needed to get rocked and this will shock you. There is so much deep rooted into our upbringing, systems and how we were taught history that needs to be re-examined.
Have tough conversations with friends and family (your young children included). Stimulating thought (especially in those who haven’t been willing to explore the uncomfortable path of change) can shift perspective.
Sign petitions, call your local authorities/government officials and vote: keep consistent. Horrific deaths are being amplified during this revolution through social media, but it is just a slice of what is actually happening. Follow social injustice activism leaders (such as ACLU) to keep abreast of an array of issues.
Donate: there are many powerful and influential activist groups to support. We try to diversify our donations to: groundwork impact, policy change, legal fees for those who are wrongly incarcerated or fined, families affected and education.
Protest: stand in unity with those who are impacted by the root cause. Stand between them and the police. Act against injustice towards what is just.
Make change: start large or small. This may look like adjusting your child’s library or revising your company’s human resource policy. Continue to work towards making every subtle and large change you can to help repair so many broken systems that are still in place.
For the Child
As parents, we have a strong desire to protect our children from any harm. This parental instinct is natural and comes from a warm place. However, most of us learn along the way that our role is not to protect them but rather to provide tools and resources so that they can learn how to protect themselves. Below are some examples of how to do so (of course, please ensure that it is developmentally appropriate based on your child’s age and emotional intelligence).
Include Children in Tough Conversations: While you are at it, seriously consider including them in all tough conversations (race, gender, sexuality, cultural bias, social and economic status, and oh so much more).
Tell Your Children How You Feel: Do yourselves and themselves a favor and include them in what we are all grappling with right now.
Teach Your Children About Other Cultures and Races: In addition to having tough conversations, ensure you are diversifying your child’s perspective. What you are reading and watching should follow suit, along with who you interact with as well. Develop a robust library filled with diversity, adversity, equality, adventure and joy. It’s important to also focus on stories of deep rooted history and culture, activism and creativity.
Justice work is daunting and draining. Keep working, keep learning and keep trying. Do it for all the broken systems in our society. Don’t stop. Humanity depends on it.