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!