We white parents find ourselves in unfamiliar territory. If we did not know before, recent events have shown us clearly that racism is no better today than it was 50 or 60 years ago. That’s hard to hear.
Learning that our country was not built on freedom and equality for all, but freedom and equality for white people feels shocking. It leaves us in a place where the easiest thing to do is to pretend it is not so. How do we white parents face this complex oppression? How can we ever admit that we perpetuate racism and benefit from it?
Learning this feels crushing. We are good people. We care about people. We love children and their parents. We want equality and justice for all.
There are large groups of people who say these oppressive beliefs do not exist in the United States today. We are not that group.
You are here on OMB because you have examined much. You are already bucking the systems that do not serve you and your family. You have already found the courage to go against the norm and stand up against family and friends in the interest of your child. You know that things are not always what they seem.
You have done the hard work of facing the worst parts of yourself in the interest of becoming a better parent. You have withheld that yell and sent in the letter of intent. You have stopped your hand from striking the small body of your child. You have found the courage within you to do all of that. You can find the courage to work through your own racism too.
Which White Parents Are Facing Their Own Racism?
A lot of us white parents are facing our own racism and we are not special. We are not in the know. We do not know where to start or if we are learning the right things. We worry that when trying to speak we will offend. We hear conflicting requests and want to throw our hands up and say “hey. I tried to help you, but if you are going to tell me I’m doing it wrong I’ll walk away.”
This is our problem, white people. We are not doing People of Color any favors by working toward justice. We are righting a wrong that we have been fueling for more generations than any of us can fathom. Nobody owes us a thank you. Nobody owes us gratitude. If you think you are owed these things keep doing the work until you understand that you are not. We are responsible for doing our own work- each of us has to take the lead in our own education and change.
The work is complex and frustrating and confusing and scary and challenging. We have to do it anyway. We are children’s advocates and we can no longer call ourselves that if we do not step up right now, in this moment, and advocate for them- all of them.
How Do We Get Started?
Start looking. Goole. Ask. Keep your eyes open on Facebook. Instead of being defensive, be open. Find others who are also doing their own work and ask if you can work together. Start a Facebook or in person group (many already exist). Join a local chapter of a group of white people doing their own work. This can be complex and controversial but stick with it. When you are told that you are doing it wrong by an appropriate voice, listen and adjust.
And for those who are still on the fence; for those of you who are not quite sure if racism is still real and responsible for oppressing People of Color, I ask you this:
If another mother came up to you and told you that she was worried for her son’s safety- that every time he leaves the house she is consumed with fear that he will not come home, what would you do? If another mother looked into your eyes and begged you for help keeping her daughter safe and giving her babies a life free of prejudice, what would you say to her? Would you tell her you do not believe her? I suspect you would reply certainly: “yes! I will do whatever is needed to keep your babies safe!”.
Mothers throughout the United States are asking you to keep their babies safe. How do you answer them?
Let’s create a country where all mothers know their babies are safe, not just white mothers.
Here are a few resources to get you started:
This is longer; it’s 28 minutes. Bookmark it if you need to, but it is an important watch:
This is an excellent article for white parents to begin with. If you are not able to read the whole thing, at least read the numbered list. Click here to read.
“And listen: Recognizing privilege doesn’t mean suffering guilt or shame for your lot in life. Nobody’s saying that straight, white, middle-class, able-bodied males are all a bunch of assholes who don’t work hard for what they have. Recognizing privilege simply means being aware that some people have to work much harder just to experience the things you take for granted (if they ever can experience them at all).” Click here to read.
“Waking Up White is the book I wish someone had handed me decades ago. My hope is that by sharing my sometimes cringe-worthy struggle to understand racism and racial tensions, I offer a fresh perspective on bias, stereotypes, manners, and tolerance. As I unpack my own long-held beliefs about colorblindness, being a good person, and wanting to help people of color, I reveal how each of these well-intentioned mindsets actually perpetuated my ill-conceived ideas about race. I also explain why and how I’ve changed the way I talk about racism, work in racially mixed groups, and understand the racial justice movement as a whole. Exercises at the end of each chapter prompt readers to explore their own racialized ideas. Waking Up White’s personal narrative is designed to work well as a rapid read, a book group book, or support reading for courses exploring racial and cultural issues.” From the Author’s Page Click here to order
White Nonsense Roundup is an excellent Facebook page. Not only can you visit to learn, you can tag them on Facebook if you are involved in a conversation about racism and you are not sure how to respond. One of their volunteers will come in and reply on the post. Click here to access.