I write this with a heavy, yet hopeful heart. I can only speak from my perspective: As a mother, and the only adult in my household, raising two white children.
I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to the experiences of others who don’t look like me. Those who know far more than I could ever imagine. I’m standing beside them and following their lead. The first step for me was learning, in order to be taught to learn.
Racism is real, and it’s rearing its ugly head in a way I’ve not been fully exposed to in my lifetime. I understand my responsibility as a white person, living in a society that allows us the privilege to bury our heads. We get to choose to wipe the sand out of our eyes, stand up, face the truth, and step into awareness & guided action.
Having black friends and family members does not exempt us from this work. It can’t be the only reason we continue to unlearn, learn, and grow. It’s a privilege to learn about it instead of experiencing it first hand, or even second hand. I have witnessed racial injustices right in front of me, sometimes oblivious to what was actually happening. I often sat silent, not knowing what to do.
I am still unlearning the reality I thought I was living in. It was my reality at the time, but now I can see it as ignorance, denial, and complacency. With the guidance of anti-racism educators, I’ve been facing the ways in which I have and continue to play a role in White Supremacy. I’m working on not centering my own voice in this narrative (yes, I’m aware of the irony of that statement in the vein of this blog post). I am continuing to support and invest in the laborers of love that surround us in order to grow our collective rising. I can no longer tolerate the current and long standing racial climate. WE can no longer sustain it’s damaging and deadly “norms”.
It is all around us, if we are willing to see it. To name it. To face it, especially within ourselves. We do it for humanity and what the Lord calls us into: Humble Unity.
My children and I have participated in a few protests over the past few weeks, and a few of them became violent after we left. I’ve been clear with them on our reason and intention for joining any activity – we want to aid change and serve our communities in the ways they need. We will not spew hate or participate in causing more harm (or at least we try not to), and pivot when needed. We march to let it be known that the devastation must end. We mourn the losses and celebrate the small victories. We won’t stop until there is true justice.
In this anti-racism work, I yield to those who have gone before me with experience & wisdom, and I follow their lead. And similar to parenting, I don’t get it all right any of the time. I keep learning and trying, even when I’m faced with resistance. That resistance comes from all angles, sometimes even within myself.
I ask them questions, listen to their answers, engage in the dialogue. When I don’t have the answers, I acknowledge it and we research together. I have asked friends to hold me accountable, call me out, and call me up. I am willing to admit that there is still so much I don’t know. I do know one thing for sure: We are all a work in progress and children of God!
I could give countless examples of dialogues with my kids, the conversations they are having amongst themselves, and most powerfully within their peer group. They have been able to absorb the gravity of our situation, and speak to their friends on a level they can understand and apply. I’d love to tell you all about it over coffee sometime (when it’s safe)! A personal favorite moment was on the way to a Children’s March for Justice, after we had participated in a peaceful protest and silent march earlier. My son asked “why do we have to do ANOTHER one? We’ve already done this.” I didn’t even need to respond because my daughter chimed with, “because nothing has changed and people are still dying at the hands of those sworn to protect!!”
These children have taught ME so much in our chats for sure! As I unpack it WITH them, it forces me to continue to look deeper. Truly listening, empathetic understanding, firmly loving, and honestly talking through past & current events. The uncomfortable conversations have to continually happen for all of our communities, so we can continue to grow in grace, love and understanding.
In my opinion, our faith and love needs to be inclusive and expansive. As parents (and parent figures: aunts, uncles, framily) we have a great responsibility. Our direct and immediate ministry is in our homes & families. This is where we have the most impact on the future of the world and God’s kingdom. Continually checking our motives and heart posture, and adjusting when needed. Our children are the future and our legacy. However, our work does not stop there.
We must get involved with local organizations (and national if we are able) where we can contribute our gifts & resources. We, white people, do NOT need to start something new. This work has been going on long before it was trendy on social media. Let’s look for plans and programs already in place and see what help is needed! We need to register to vote, do our research, and then VOTE. We also need to make sure that the most marginalized also have access & ability to vote.
The fight must continue and making that commitment is extremely important. The change starts within your home – but in order for there to be a systemic change the laws have to change, the police department would have to change, and district lines would have to change.
Let’s stand together to fight injustice.
I am grateful for this opportunity to take a deeper look at my own motives and actions. I am open to talking through my experiences with anyone who is looking for more clarity. I will most likely point you in the direction of those who can speak to it more clearly, and have been living in this work far longer than me. We will no longer sit silently on the sidelines. We stand together or we all fall.
(This post was written in collaboration with Nadiyah Albee and Alexis Jacquett Young.)