It matters to you too.

Several times when I have been chatting with white friends about some of the choices that our family makes or the things that we consider before making a decision, I get a response along the lines of “Oh, I totally get that. For you. For your family. I understand that you are different and have to make the choices that are right for your unique family.” The implication is that while they realize the world isn’t the same for everyone, the differences that I am talking about do not affect them. They don’t have to think about it. If I boiled it down to one thing, white privilege is not what we do, but what we do not have to do. The things we do not have to notice, the ability to pretend that white privilege does not exist.
{Diversify your life.} Many of the choices we make to add diversity in our family’s day-to-day life, would be good choices for white families with white children also. The way we make conscious decisions to ensure that our children have a rich life experience. Teaching them about other cultures, to guiding them in empathy and to talking about difficult subjects. It matters to your children too. Diversity is good for everyone. What makes the world interesting is all the differences. What makes the world a better place is more and more adults (and children) who celebrate these differences instead of being scared of them. Go to cultural events, art shows, concerts. Try a new restaurant. There is so much beauty in the world when you seek it out. Join our family on MLK Day at the march.
{Educate yourself and your children} Real change comes when we all care about things that don’t have to matter to us. Men learning about women. Adults learning about children. Christians learning about Muslims. Extroverts learning about introverts. Able-bodied people learning about people with physical challenges. And yes, white people learning about the people of color. Our experience is just that, our experience. There are millions of other people in the world with different experiences. We are not experts in every area and that leaves lots of room for learning. It is why I am obsessed with traveling – to learn. As parents, it is our job to train up children, not to be selfishly “successful” for themselves, but to be successful in kindness, generosity, and grace. Exposing children to people who aren’t “like them” teaches them acceptance. Talking about injustices in the world shows them that they can fight for what is right.
Add to your news sources. One of my favorites: HuffPost Black Voices
{Talk about it } If you have been following along with #mywhiteprivilege posts on Facebook this month, you may be wondering what you can DO about it. In my opinion, the number 1 thing that you can do (after you’ve acknowledged white privilege and racial prejudice) is to TALK about it. Will it be awkward? Yes. Will you mess up? Probably. DO IT ANYWAY. Talk about it with your children. Talk about it with your friends and co-workers. Speak up when you see injustices. The more you talk about it, the easier it gets (I am a testimony to this!!) See it. Know that it is there. Don’t ignore it or be dismissive. If someone tells you about something that happened to them, hear them, don’t try to explain it away. When I have been hurt or offended and I go to Chris with my pain, I want him to hear me, to see me, to acknowledge me. People want to be known and understood.
We show with our actions, but we teach with our words. If there is a subject in your home that is off limits, what message does that send to your children? Positive or negative? Does it let them know that is is something you care about, something that you think matters? The conversations don’t have to be long, but they really should happen. Show your children that you see value in everyone and then tell them that too. If more white families talked about racism, if they taught their children to see racial prejudice and stand against it, maybe black children could keep their childhood innocence a bit longer. If a child of color is old enough to be called a racial slur or to have a child at the playground call them dirty or refuse to play with them because of the color of their skin, then a white child is old enough to be have a conversation about race that teaches them it is not ok. You can’t ignore racism and raise anti-racist children. Our generation has been taught to be “colorblind” when in reality, there is no such thing. It is ok to see race and other differences and to celebrate them. Let’s teach the next generation to speak up.
One easy way to introduce these conversations is through toys, dolls, books, etc. with diverse representation. If you want to know what you can actually DO, that would be a great step. Make sure that not every princess/doll in your house is white. Buy books with multi-ethnic characters. Read books to your children about diversity. Watch shows with characters that are different from you and talk about it positively with your children afterwards (We love Sesame Street, Daniel Tiger, and so many of the PBS shows). If it is ok for black girls to play with white dolls, it is certainly ok for white girls to play with black dolls. I would love it if I heard a friend or family member of ours talking to their children about race or if someone came to me with questions about how to answer their children’s questions about our family. Making a change starts with small steps, but each of us have a voice and influence. Use yours for good.
A book I recommend starting with:

Some other books we love:




Along with some other members of a Facebook group that I am a part of I have been posting a white privilege every day for a month. Today is the last day. In case you mssed it, here is the recap of my month.

// Day 1// When a product is labeled “flesh” or “nude” colored, I am guaranteed to easily find it in my skin color (band-aids, nylons, make-up, underwear and bras). Anywhere that sells these things, sells them in my color and has for my whole life.

// Day 2 // Growing up, when I went to Sunday School all of the images of Jesus and others from the Bible looked like me even though it’s extremely doubtful that they actually did.

// Day 3 // When I was a teenager, my friends and I poured over magazines like Seventeen, YM, and Cosmopolitan. In all of these magazines, every hair tip, make-up tip and the advertising was clearly written for people of my race.
Until I started subscribing to Ebony, I had no idea that product advertisers made separate ads to use in specific magazines. All the magazines I read before used mostly ads with white people, even though they were – in theory – magazines for everyone. And that is exactly why magazines like Ebony and Essence are necessary.

// Day 4 // When I have a rash, bump, or other skin condition, I can easily find images with examples of what that skin condition would look like on my skin tone. I quickly found out when Maya had a rash that this would not be the case for her.

// Day 5 // My parents never asked about diversity in any school I ever attended. The idea that overall diversity would have mattered or that the specific makeup of a student body would have a bearing on my development was simply a non issue. 
Now, as a mother of Black children, diversity is a high priority for me when looking at schools for my children. Nearly all of the racist incidents that my children have faced in the last 3 years have been at their Christian schools, where there was not much racial diversity.

// Day 6 // When I go to buy a greeting card, almost all of the cards that feature people or hands or children, use people with my skin color. If you want Black people on a greeting card, you have to go to the special section (that is if that store carries Mahogany). When I was looking for a graduation card for my son, over half of the cards were automatically out because of the images. This left me with very few to chose from that had the sentiment I wanted. I had to find a card without any people on it and from a parent.

// Day 7 // My parents never had to teach me that people might make assumptions about me based on the color of my skin. They never explained racism to me because they didn’t have to. I don’t have to think about or learn about race if I don’t want to.

// Day 8 // I can drive any type of car, any way I want and I won’t be judged or pulled over more often because of my race. In fact, I drive 10 over the speed limit, pretty much always, but I can’t even remember the last time I was pulled over. If I am pulled over, I know it will be no big deal. There’s virtually no chance that I’ll be questioned about my reasons for being in that area, my immigration status, or asked to exit my car. More than likely, I’ll just get a warning.

// Day 9 // Just last week, I took my daughter to a private neighborhood’s playground in a neighborhood that we do not live. No one questioned me or if I belonged there. It isn’t the first time that I’ve done that. I can walk, ride my bike, drive my car anywhere and have no one give me a second glance for “not belonging.”

// Day 10 // I can purchase items from a store and walk out holding the items in my hand or putting them in my purse without holding the receipt and no one will stop me thinking that I am shoplifting.

// Day 11 // I can walk down the sidewalk or sit in my car to wait for someone and the color of my skin will not cause anyone to feel threatened, fearful, or suspicious. People don’t cross the street when they see me coming or clutch their bag closer to them.

// Day 12 // There is not a slang word used to describe people of my race that is deeply offensive to me, reminds me of my place in society or brings up a history of oppression.
Although I’ve been called a few slang words here and there, I do not remember the first time it happened because it didn’t pack a punch. I will always remember the first time it happened to my son and he will too. Hoping and praying that we have a long way to go before it happens to my daughter too.

// Day 13 // I can be late bringing my child to school and not have to worry that my tardiness as a parent will be generalized to apply to all mothers of my race.

// Day 14 // If I’m in a room full of white people and something potentially racist happens, everyone doesn’t look to me to determine whether it was offensive. My white privilege is not having to display offense on behalf of my race.

// Day 15 // I am viewed as an individual. My behaviors and accomplishments, whether good or bad, are attributed to me personally. Nobody expects me to be an athlete, musician, dancer, or scholar (or lazy, loud, poor, or a thief) based on stereotypes about my race.

// Day 16 // As a child, it was easy for me to go into a bookstore or library and find hundreds of books with characters that looked and talked just like me. I recently got a library card and it takes me nearly 30 minutes to find 2-3 books that I feel are appropriate for Maya. Books with at least a couple characters who look like her or books that have animal characters. I also have to actually like the book, the illustrations and the message.

// Day 17 // Almost every authority figure I have ever dealt with – principal, doctor, postmaster, social worker, judge – has shared my race. This didn’t surprise me, rather it seemed pretty ordinary until I thought about it.

// Day 18 // White privilege is getting upset because a fictional movie character is cast as a person of color (no longer looks like you), but not even noticing that in historical movies like Exodus, the ancients from Africa are depicted as (mostly) white people.

// Day 19 // For years of my schooling, I was taught the history of people who look like me from their perspective. While people of other ethnicities and races were mentioned only briefly. The entire history of Africa’s 54 countries are boiled down to a few of sentences.
At my private Christian school, we didn’t even have Black History Month. The history of people who look like me is not contained in one small month nor is it focused on our difficulties instead of our accomplishments.

// Day 20 // I can choose to live in a universe where people actually believe that “not seeing color” or being “colorblind” is somehow an anti-racist and an anti-racism stance.

// Day 21 // White privilege is becoming an adult before realizing that “One Little, Two Little, Three Little Indians” is not a cute little counting song, but a disgusting racist song. White privilege is ignoring this and continuing to teach it to children year after year because it doesn’t affect you.

// Day 22 // When I was accepted into my small, private university, no one implied, assumed or outright asked if I got in because of my race. I got in based on my grades and test scores. No one thought otherwise.

// Day 23 // White privilege allows white children to play with toy guns in public and they’re just pretending to be cowboys, army men or cops and robbers. Chris spent many days in his childhood, running through empty lots and drainage areas with toy guns and sometimes setting off firecrackers with no incident.
A Black child playing with the a toy gun is viewed as suspicious. Tamir Rice, who was 12 years old, was shot dead in less than 2 seconds.

// Day 24 // I have never been concerned about putting my legal name on a resume, or have otherwise worried about how I introduce myself by name in a professional setting. 
In addition, I don’t have to wonder if I am being paid less than my co-workers, even though I have been with the company years longer, simply because of my race (real life example, from a close friend of mine.)

// Day 25 // No one has ever given me a compliment (you speak well, you have pretty hair) and followed it up with “for a white person” (or even implied such a thing). 
Telling an adult that they are articulate for speaking the same way that you do or being surprised that someone who doesn’t look like you uses certain vocabulary or is knowledgeable about a subject.

// Day 26 // No one touches or attempts to touch my hair without my permission. I am not expected to allow a stranger to pet me or ask questions about my personal grooming that are none of their business. My personal space is respected. #mywhiteprivilege #everydayinjune
Furthermore if someone does touch my hair, the comments that follow do not extend the insult. A shocked and surprised, “Wow!! It is so soft!” is not a compliment.

// Day 27 // Thinking that our children will be fine because we are “raising them right.” “Just teach him to obey the law and everything will be fine.” “Talking about racism makes it worse.” You are “being too sensitive.” “You are giving your children a chip on their shoulder.” It’s easy to deny things that make you feel uncomfortable because getting to feel comfortable in almost any situation is a privilege that we don’t even realize exists.

// Day 28 // I can pretend America began with white colonization and know I “belong” here (although every white person in the USA is an immigrant or a descendant of an immigrant). No one tells me to go back to my country. I am an American and no one questions that. When people ask, “Where are you from?” and I say, “Texas.” no one says, “No, where are you REALLY from?”

// Day 29 // Because we weren’t aware of our privilege and we were naive, Chris and I were surprised that speaking out about racism and privilege would eventually cause us to lose a large part of our family and inspire people we love to defend racism. White privilege is being able to debate the fact that white privilege exists while every other race knows it for a fact.

// Day 30 // It has been an amazing month! I get to post this then tomorrow and every day after that, I don’t have to think about my race, my whiteness, and the advantages I’ve gotten because of it, ever again. And that is the ultimate #mywhiteprivilege.

It matters to you too. » Pure & Lasting - […] One of my favorites: HuffPost Black Voices {Talk about it } If you have been following along with #mywhiteprivilege posts on Facebook this month, you may be wondering what you can DO about it. In my opinion, the […]

What is white privilege anyway?

I’ve been quiet for a while. Not because I have nothing to say, but because I don’t know how to say it. The right message and the wrong delivery can lead to not being heard and I so very desperately want to be heard. When I post an article or write a blog my sole motivation is education, teaching and learning. Over the last 5 years, Chris and I have been learning so much. We have learned about parenting, marriage, adoption, privilege, race and so much more. I see things that I didn’t see before. I’ve experienced things that I didn’t know happened anymore. And let’s be real, I see a lot of things differently because we are a transracial family. If not for knowing and loving my children, there are many things that I may never have learned. So this is me, asking you to hear me. To read some of what I write and what I post. Asking those of you who know and love our family to be open to looking at the world from different perspective, from my children’s perspective and from the perspective of someone who may be more like you than you even know. Please see my heart. Know that I do not expect anyone to already know any of these things. I didn’t. I am learning every day. What I am asking is for you to listen with an open mind and an open heart.
Diving right in, I want to talk about white privilege. What does that even mean? I’m not sure exactly when I learned about white privilege, but I wanted to take a few moments to tell you about what I have learned. Because you don’t know what you don’t know. Let me start by telling you what white privilege is not. White privilege does not mean that if you are white your life is easy, perfect or charmed. It doesn’t mean that you should feel guilty just for being white. It isn’t necessarily something to feel defensive about.
Now, let’s talk about what privilege is. This one of the best, simplest definitions that I have seen:

By the way, white privilege isn’t the only kind of privilege there is. There is male privilege, class privilege, able-bodied privilege, etc. And again, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing something  wrong because you have a certain privilege, but it does mean that you should acknowledge it. When Chris goes into an home improvement store or auto repair store, he is going to be treated differently than I am. Why? Because he has male privileges that I, as a female do not have. It doesn’t mean he is sexist. It means that if he sees a woman being treated unfairly (for example, if an employee skips a female customer to help him), he should point it out. He should use his male privilege to say, “Hey man, she was here first.”
There are many areas in my life that are easier because I am white. White privilege presents in small, seemingly harmless ways, like knowing that BandAids that you can find at any store will match your skin. But it also means that I can wear my hoodie over my head at night without any worry that someone will think that I look dangerous. White privilege means that most media sources (TV, magazines, news, etc.) will feature someone who looks like me. It means that I will be able to watch an unending abundance of programs featuring people who share my race doing a huge variety of things. Most of these privileges, we never even notice.
If you follow me on Facebook, I am going to be talking a lot more about White privilege for the month of June. The first step is understanding what it is and acknowledging that it is.
One more thing, please, pluuuuuu-ease watch this video that explains privilege better than I ever could.

And a couple of great articles:
Coach’s Son’s Privilege
What my Bike has Taught Me About White Privilege

Marcy - Thank you for starting this conversation. I’m eager to read your insights and have so much to learn!

Representation matters.

Being a member of the dominant or majority culture means that I see reflections of myself all the time. Walk the aisle in any toy section to see this on display. In the Target that I frequent, (that is located in an area that has higher than average Black population) I am lucky if I see one or two Black dolls. And by Black, I just mean an exact replica of a white doll, but with a slightly darker shade of skin. I have yet to find a doll in a store that matches my daughter’s gorgeous dark skin tone. It may seem like a small thing, but it isn’t. When one body type, hair color, eye color, skin color is celebrated more than others, it is what we try to become. It is what we see as the standard. Those who are other than the ideal feel like they are less than. As a child, I spent a lot of time staring in the mirror wishing that my brown eyes would turn blue so that I could be beautiful. Representation matters.
It is so important for our children (and adults too) to see themselves reflected in positive, beautiful ways. To know that they (and others who look like them) are cherished and celebrated. Most children can look at their parents and other family members for this. In a transracial family, it is even more important to surround your family with reflections of themselves. I don’t want Maya to look at me, wishing for my board-straight hair, I want her to see her gorgeous curls and brown skin reflected in our beautiful friends, in what we do (and do not) watch on TV, in her toys, books and dolls. Such a simple concept, but so very important.
These days, when Maya and I go shopping, I end up avoiding the doll aisles altogether. I steer away from the rows filled with white faces staring back at us, telling us what is beautiful and valued. As a mom to a beautiful Black girl, something as simple as walking the aisles in Target can almost bring me to tears. I watch as mothers of white daughters linger as they choose from the seemingly unending choices of dolls that reflect their race. When you are white, it isn’t something we have to think about. The books in the book store, the blockbuster children’s movies and TV shows again reinforce these ideals. I hope that as time continues on we will see more and more representation in the media for people of color. There are glimmers of hope for the future.
Etsy has been a great place for me to find great products that reflect my children and our family. Maya has been wanting a real lunch box for a while. Soapbox Theory is my newest discovery. I am obsessed with this store. Such adorable, empowering products. There are some awesome boy options too!!!

The custom family portrait was done by another amazing Etsy-er. My dear friend Beth. Check out her store HERE. For a 10% discount in Beth’s store, use the code JENNSFRIENDS.
maya lunch box

A quick iPhone photo of my beauty headed off to school this morning. I can’t believe how big she looks!

beth cupitt - holy smokes, they even have a black cowboy!!!

Hannah - Check out I got an amazing print for me and my two daughters. You can choose skin tone and hair color, lots of options. My black daughter is blind so it is an interesting situation. I want all of the black stuff for her even though she doesn’t know!

Sevi - I love this so much and already saved the etsy shop for viewing later. I remember when I was younger always having the hardest time finding a doll that represented my culture and the way I look. Slowly we are making progress, slowly.

The simple things.

I love my little family. As the weather is warming up, we are spending many nights working on and enjoying our backyard. My sweet husband is amazing at landscape design. We are so blessed to be able to have such a fun space to spend time. I often forget to get out my camera for the everyday stuff, but these are the real memories of childhood, of family and I want to remember our little family just as it is. Maya loves to camp in the backyard and Alain cooks amazing food on the fire. Here are some photos of our simple, backyard fun.