I’m not one for strong language, but it’s been one hell of a month for the U.S. The events of last week brought new vigor to the discussion of racism in America, and the torment of division cannot be denied.
The nation watched as the heartbreaking events unfolded across America: the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota and then the attack of 12 police members in Texas.
Our hearts are heavy with pain. My heart is laden with desire to see change. I am dismayed by the realization that the issues at hand are complex and fossilized, metamorphosed by time and ingrained habits. And if I’m honest, I am also disturbed by the racial divide I see in my own life.
I am a white, middle class mom of young children living in Colorado. In case you’re not aware, Colorado is not known for its ethnic diversity. In 2015 more than 87% of the population was white. Yet the lack of diversity is no excuse for an absence of conversation about the equal worth of all people.
I admit I have a proclivity to be with people who look like me, sound like me, and agree in my beliefs or preferences. As a result, my children are growing up in a very vanilla landscape, very much lacking the beautiful shades of humanity. The problem with being surrounded by overwhelming whiteness is that it is easy to forget that many of this nation’s residents do not have light colored skin. And that their experiences in everyday America are likely very different than ours; merely because they are black.
I want America to be a place where black lives truly matter.
I want America to be a place also where the police are respected and trusted to use their best impartial judgement and humane methods in each situation.
I want America to be a place where I don’t have to pick sides; I want to support racial equality and the police force.
An expert on social transformation I am not. However, I believe that change begins best at home. The attitudes and behaviors a family models within their house will be copied and repeated outside the walls. We—moms—can transform society by raising young people who value all lives, regardless of skin color.
We can fight racism right here, right now, around our kitchen tables by inviting discussion about diversity into our daily interactions.
Let’s make a change, Mamas. Will you join me?
Here are five ways I plan to combat racism.
- Listen to the dialogue and respond in solidarity.
Actively listen to how black people are saying we can help. Research how white people can support racial equality. Say something. Show up. Be brave enough to inspect your own life for shreds of racism, and then reverse those behaviors or attitudes.
- Visit parks in other areas of town on purpose regularly.
Drive over to the parks where more black kids play. Allow your children to interact with children of different ethnicity and discover the richness of diversity on their own.
- Go out of your way to grocery shop in a different area of town.
This suggestion is more difficult (because we all know how hard grocery shopping is!), but take a trip away from your neighborhood market to see what the supermarkets across town offer. Take a field trip to the Asian market to buy fish sauce. Seek out places where people of different backgrounds shop, and embrace the healthy discomfort.
- Provide books which feature black characters and American kids of minority descent.
Showcase books in your home which feature black kids and everyday life for people with darker skin tones. Read biographies of famous black people to your children. Discuss the precious value of all people’s lives, regardless of skin color. Amazon has a section for highly rated books on prejudice.
- Educate yourself on racism in America today and, if you feel compelled, join a chapter which stands for racial equality.
Supporting organizations which work to dismantle racism is a great way to be actively involved. Here are couple organizations to get you started if you’re interested: Crossroads Antiracism Organizing and Training, Racial Equality Resource Guide, and Be the Bridge.
These steps are real, tangible ways that we can introduce diversity and equality of all into our children’s worldviews.
I’m calling myself out on my own levels of racism and moving to actively combat it in my own home.
Will you do the same? Take the challenge by using #whitemomsagainstracism and join the discussion.
Let’s speak up on behalf of Americans of African descent. Tell them we support them and value them. And then truly change our attitudes and behaviors to prove it.
Do you have other ideas about how we can increase our children’s exposure to positive diversity and model love for those who look different than us? Please share constructive comments below.