I’ve been participating in Erika and Shay‘s monthly “Let’s Look” posts and this month’s topic was sharing how we can make sure we’re encouraging racial equality at home. I’m excited that they chose to adjust the prompt based on current events, and use this as a chance to share some of the things on my heart.
Last week started a long journey of really taking the time to listen to the voices of others, reflect on my own implicit biases, privileges, and underlying racism, and apply what I’ve learned in my own life and beyond. I realized that it is not enough to be “not racist,” but I need to actively work to be anti-racist. And I am ashamed to say that I was not previously doing this well. This past week was a much needed wake-up call and I can honestly say that it was transformative for me. I know I’m not going to do this perfectly, and I’m probably going to say or do the wrong thing some times, but I am committed to working through the discomfort because this is too important.
Fix It: Starting with Myself
I have been sharing a lot of posts and videos that I have found to be valuable, eye-opening, and challenging on my Instagram stories. I created a highlight bubble titled “BLM” (let’s be clear: that stands for Black Lives Matter, because they absolutely DO matter) that you can click on and see everything I shared there, but if you’re not on Instagram, here are a few videos in particular that made a huge impact on me over the past week:
I believe it is extremely important to specifically seek out and listen to Black voices right now, but this video was powerful too and really made me hold up a mirror to myself.
It can be overwhelming and difficult to know what to do and where to start with all the information out there right now. This article, 75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice, gives a lot of great suggestions and is a helpful place to begin. Following accounts like @theconsciouskid (parenting and education through a critical race lens) and racial justice educators like @austinchanning and @rachel.cargle has provided me with a lot of insight, perspective, and additional resources and I am learning so much.
And speaking of social media, I realized in looking at my feed that the VAST majority of content creators I followed were white. I saw someone someone say something like “when you are the one constantly elevated, you have no idea what the view from the other side looks like” – I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t even really notice the lack of representation in what I consumed and that in itself is very telling of my privilege. I didn’t want to follow a ton of random people just for the sake of a diverse feed (plus it doesn’t help accounts to have followers who don’t interact with them), but I intentionally sought out accounts that I enjoy and want to see content from. I love following home design accounts and have started following people like @prettyrealblog, @carmeon.hamilton, @joystreetdesign, @sgardnerstyle, @grillodesigns, @homemadebycarmona, and @dwellbycheryl – not just because they are Black but because I love their style! I also appreciate the financial wisdom I’ve gained from @thebudgetnista, the encouragement given by @seekwisdompcw, the beautiful and inspirational graphics produced by @ohhappydani, and the powerful videos created by @themanacho. Diversifying my feed has been such a simple, yet powerful change to make and I’m never going back.
It’s no secret around here that I love to read, so books are another place I am focusing my energy. Back in February, I read I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness and it was just announced as the next pick for Reese’s Book Club! If you haven’t read this book yet, I highly highly recommend it. It was such a powerful, challenging memoir. I have maxed out my holds on the library wait list with titles that include White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism, Stamped from the Beginning, and Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. I have joined a book club group for How to Be An Anti-Racist and I’m excited for the challenge and learning that I’m sure will come from those discussions. In addition, I’m making a conscious effort to also seek out Black authors when I read fiction.
Address It: Teaching my Kids
Justin and I have had several conversations over the past week about racism, our biases and privileges, and how we can work to be better as anti-racist individuals and as parents. We want our kids to empathize with and stand up for others. We want them to work for equality and call out injustice. We want to raise our kids to appreciate diversity, to listen to the perspectives of others, and to work towards making this world a better, more equal place for everyone. And that all starts in our home.
I did an inventory of LJ’s library and found that while we do have several books that include children from multiple races and ethnicities, we only have one book that has a non-white protagonist (The Snowy Day). This definitely needs to change. I’m in the process of choosing and ordering books with BIPOC protagonists and BIPOC authors to diversify his library (and I’m trying to buy them from BIPOC-owned bookstores). Same with the toys they play with – while we don’t have very many, I realized that of all the dolls or “people” toys we do have, they are almost exclusively white. We have only one black person that came in a set for LJ’s train table. I realized I have never been intentional about only getting “people” toys that look like my kids, but I also haven’t been intentional about seeking people toys that do not look like my kids. I’m going to be very intentional about diversifying their toys going forward. Same goes with our TV shows and movies – representation matters!
We live near a fairly diverse mid-sized city, but our actual home is in the surrounding country and the area is predominately white. Regardless, I am committed to making sure my children see and appreciate diversity around them. This means attending downtown events and activities where there will be many BIPOC people present, it means choosing parks and playgrounds in diverse areas, it means grocery shopping and going to library story time where I know there will be people who don’t look like us. It takes a little more effort, but it is absolutely worth it.
I read the following analogy this week and it really stuck with me. I unfortunately can’t find where I discovered it, but it was something along the lines of: When we teach kids how to cross the street, we don’t just say “Be Safe!” and hope they know what to do. We specifically tell them exactly what they need to do: stop on the sidewalk, look both ways, hold an adult’s hand, wait for the signal, stay in the crosswalk, etc. We are repetitive and specific. The same needs to go with teaching anti-racism. We can’t just say “Be Nice!” and expect that to be enough for our kids to be anti-racist. We need to be specific and help teach our kids the types of racist behavior they may witness in the world that are not okay and that they should not condone or repeat. We need to be specific about ways for them to be an anti-racist ally and stand up for others, and those conversations can start now. Again, @theconsciouskid has been a great resource for me in this area.
My next steps look beyond our home. I cannot do everything, but I can do some things and I want to do them well. Voting. Supporting black-owned businesses. Donating to causes that align with my values and seek to make positive change in this world. Volunteering my time and resources. Continuing to have the tough conversations with my family and friends. Speaking out when I see injustice or racism.
I know there are so so many more things I can do, but I also know this journey to be anti-racist is a marathon, not a sprint. These are areas where I’m starting, not finishing.
If you have additional resources that you have found helpful, I would love to hear about them!