I’m a 40-year-old white mom and I don’t know what I should be doing right now. For me, posting on Facebook that “things need to change” feels like I’m checking a look-at-me box. So then, I ask, is there anything I can actually do to affect change, to make a difference, to respond instead of sit?
Then I get scared that my opinion and perspective are naive, privileged, and unaware. And as I think and pray about this, I’ve come upon the truth that yes, they are. But I can’t allow that to put me in a place of paralyzed apathy, especially when it comes to race and parenting. The stakes are too high. So here are 3 things I’m going to do. I hope you’ll come alongside me. Maybe together we can make a difference, not to make ourselves feel self-righteous for chipping in, but because it’s the right thing to do.
1. I’m going to read.
Reading was my first instinct, so I’m going to go with it. I could read advice about race and parenting, but I think instead I’m going to commit to reading a book by an African American author about a culture that is different from my own. I’ll look for a book for my kids, too. As I wait for the books to arrive on my doorstep (I like turning the paper pages), I’ll read an article or two from an online magazine that represents black culture.
Yep. I’m going to google, “African American magazine articles” and start clicking and reading. For a moment, I’m going to allow myself to be outside my bubble. If I’m uncomfortable, I’ll ask myself why. I’m not saying this is a fix, but it’s a good first step.
2. I’m going to risk.
A dear friend of mine is Puerto Rican and her husband is African American. We were texting and I asked her how she was feeling. Her advice to me was, “We have to risk being uncomfortable.” A few minutes later, a friend posted something on Facebook that reinforced a stereotype I have and I asked him politely, “How is this helping the situation?”
This was a low-risk confrontation. Maybe your mom, brother-in-law, or best friend says things and to call them out would cause a rift. I think it’s time we start thinking outside our own needs and wants and speak the truth with love and respect.
3. I’m going to get intentional.
My influence over my city and its structure and policies feels minimal, but my influence over my children is monumental. And mom, if you hear nothing else and click out of this article taking away no other words, hear this: Parents are more powerful than politicians and policies.
Every player in this game—politicians, police officers, rioters, protesters, racists—has a parent who influenced them, for good or for bad. We are teaching our children to judge, love, serve, listen, riot, protest, sit back, or speak up. When it comes to race and parenting, I don’t exactly know what to do to teach my kids how to be part of the solution. But ignoring the problem and pretending it doesn’t exist just because in our world, we have the ability to look the other way? That’s surely not it. So we’ll talk. We’ll look people in the eye. We’ll try to expand our circle to include people who aren’t just like us.
Is this enough?
On their own, none of these things will make a difference. And truthfully, they will not make a difference collectively if there is no change in my heart. If there is no recognition of what I’ve done to contribute to the problem or a true desire to gain understanding, respect, and empathy, I’m wasting my time. This isn’t the perfect solution, and it might feel like it’s not enough. But it’s something. And we have to do something.
How are you feeling and what do you think we can do to affect change?