My family is different–and I love that. Having a child of color has enriched my life and expanded my emotional intelligence in so many ways. But as the mother of a Black son, racism is on my mind nearly every day now. I have learned so much about it and I want to share some of that with you on this blog because I know how much you all care about Miles, too.
Here are 5 ways that you can be an ally, not only for Miles, but for all kids of color:
1. Don’t pretend to be colorblind. You can say that Miles is black. (You don’t have to say African-American, although that’s OK to say, as is person of color or kid of color.) Black is not a 4-letter word. It’s his race. I’m proud of it and it is absolutely crucial that he is, too. I don’t want him to think that it’s something that he should be ashamed of. Instead, celebrate his Blackness with me. He’s a perfect, cuddly, beautiful Black baby boy and I couldn’t be prouder of that fact.
2. If I bring up racism or white privilege, please have the courage to talk with me about it. This is my life now. I know that talking about race is uncomfortable for you–it was uncomfortable for me at first, too. But my child–and every Black child in this country–needs white advocates who aren’t afraid to learn about and talk about racism because, unfortunately, it is still exists. Trust me when I tell you that it definitely does. By acknowledging it, maybe we can create change.
3. Your white children will have privileges and be able to do things that my son won’t be able to do. This is the unfortunate reality of every Black parent in the country and now it is mine as well. And it just plain sucks. When you’re teaching your son to assert his rights when questioned by a police officer, I will have to tell mine to put his hands up and eyes down and try not to get shot. I’m going to have to teach him things–really sad, awful things–about the world that you will not have to teach your child, and when he’s a teenager I may just go absolutely insane with worry every time he leaves the house. Tell me that you get it and that it’s not fair. Help me think of ways to make it better.
4. I can’t tell you how much I would appreciate you being intentional about teaching your children and/or grandchildren, nieces, or nephews that other races are just as beautiful and worthy and strong as ours. I think white parents sometimes forget to do that or don’t know how to go about it. But kids start to notice racial differences at a pretty young age and as parents, we have the ability to shape how they feel about those differences. Expose them to diversity in culture, books, toys, entertainment and look for opportunities to show them heroes and great men and women of color so they know that strong, good people come in every color and not just white. Something this simple can help shape our children into loving and empathetic adults.
5. Use your privilege to push for diversity (both in student bodies and in teaching staff) and equality for kids of color at your children’s school. As a white parent, you have a lot of power. Stand up and say something if you see racism happening. Ask the school to recruit more Black teachers. Black children historically have a really tough time in school because of systemic racism. This article from The Washington Post talks about how racism is pushing more Black parents to homeschool their kids. I’m actually considering homeschooling Miles–not at our home (I’d screw him up for sure!) but in a homeschool community coop for kids of color where there is an actual, accredited teacher in charge and I can be sure that he will be treated with respect and surrounded by children and teachers that look like him.
Thank you for reading, for going on this journey with me, and for all of your love and support!
10 thoughts on “5 Ways My White Friends & Family Can be Allies for my Black Son”
This is a great post! We are a trans-racial family as well and honestly, I guess I’ve been living in denial because I never really thought of some of the struggles our son might have. Thanks for opening my eyes.
Also, I’m considering using WordPress for my blog and I was wondering how you were able to get so many readers/followers. Any advice would be helpful.
Thanks, Rohit! I have learned so much about race and racism that I had never thought about before because I never had to deal with it personally. But my eyes have been opened so much since having Miles and I hope I can shine a light on it for other people. My hope is that if white people can start learning and caring about the struggles of people of color that we can come together to make positive change.
As for the blog, I would definitely use WordPress. Right now, I’m hosting the site through WordPress.com though I may choose another hosting platform down the road. I don’t really know how people found it – I didn’t do anything, really, to get it out there. People found it mostly through search. When I first started writing, it was a way to let my family into what I was experiencing and then people that were also going through the adoption process started to find it. I’m not 100% sure how!
I love this, especially #1. We have written in our Dear Birthmother letter that “We believe in celebrating all the colors and cultures around us, instead of acting “color blind” and pretending we are all the same.” Our adoption counsellor expressed interest in that statement; I couldn’t tell if she thought it was good or bad, but I don’t think she’d ever heard it before!
Neither my husband or I have any Black people in our families, but we do have Chinese (my niece), Aboriginal/El Salvadorian (my husband’s brother), and Metis (my brother’s wife), all who became part of our families through adoption. We are very curious to see what race our future child will be, as we are open to anything!
That’s so important, Rhonda. Good for you. Sounds like you have a very diverse family that will be wonderful for a child of any race. Good luck to you!
I love this post! I am doing open adoption with amazing couple who happens to be white. Looking at this makes me reassuring of them and how much they are trying to understand black culture and things they should do with their soon to be daughter. Even though my daughter will be half black and half white she will still face a lot of challenges in life
Thank you, Elexus! That’s so good to hear. It sounds like you have chosen a wonderful family and that they understand how important it is to celebrate your daughter’s culture. Best of luck to you!
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“White Privilege” is a racist term and offensive. White and Black are not races and people who are “colorblind” are not racists, we have been freed from it. I am glad you have adopted this wonderful boy, but saddened that he will be taught racism (I hope not). As a former member of an interracial couple, I had to deal with racism on a case by case basis and it always surprised me when it showed itself. But if you expect to see racism everywhere, your human conformation bias will find it even when it isn’t there. This is not a “gift” you want to pass on. I would love to talk to you more about “systemic racism” and you probably think I have no right to complain about the impugning of people of less color (whites) that you do here with your sweeping generalizations, because I am white, but that’s in and of itself is racism.
There is nothing you can universally say about people with or without skin color that is true except that we are all human and all from come from the same family. Please don’t teach this boy that he’s different because “whites” think he is, because that is just not true. If he thinks he can’t succeed because white people have created a system that won’t let him, he’ll learn to hate people without skin color and he’ll stop striving and fail just as if you taught him he could not succeed because he’s not as smart as other kids (which I would presume you would not do). So why teach me that his skin color (not race) will hold him back? Also, if you want to talk about privilege based on skin color or race, you might look at how well Asian children are doing. Is their success due to Asian privilege? Or do you lump them in with “whites”?
I would love to talk to you about race and it is not uncomfortable for me at all. God Bless.
Thank you for taking the time to comment, David. I am sorry that you experienced racism as part of an interracial couple. I’m sorry when anyone experiences racism. I’m sorry that my son will experience racism, which he definitely will (and already has, at the age of three). My goal is to educate him about it (because there is ZERO doubt that it exists in the world and that he will experience it) honestly in hopes of preparing him for how to deal with it. I disagree with you that White Privilege is a racist term – it’s just the truth. White people have certain privileges that people of color simply do not. I can point you to a million people and places that will back that up, but I suggest you read some of the links in some of my other posts. It’s a fact that people see black children as older than white children of the same age and that they are disciplined more harshly in school than their white counterparts, expelled far more often, and that they are seen (because of inherent bias) as more aggressive and more hostile than white children who are behaving the exact same way. I’ve done a lot of research on this. I understand that we don’t want to believe it and that we wish it was not this way, but neglecting to teach my son about racism would be doing him a HUGE disservice and could even get him killed. Instead, I will make him aware of the realities, the history and reasons why, while also encouraging and empowering him to do his best to move beyond it. Of course I won’t teach him that he is different because whites think he is and of course I know that not everyone thinks this way (and there is nothing wrong with being different, by the way – it’s what makes our country so great), but if you have watched the news in the past several years, surely you have seen that the country is still quite full of unsafe places for people of color. Ignoring the realities that black boys and black men face in our country is something I just cannot afford to do – even though I wish more than I could ever tell you that it wasn’t necessary.