It matters to you too.

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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:

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Molly Cisneros - Hi Jennifer,
I went to high school with Chris and Casey and stumbled on your blog a while back. I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your beliefs about this topic. As a teacher I try to expose my students to other cultures, ideas and people different from themselves. Thank you for the books and resources you shared. 💛

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