I’m a human who seeks radical compassion, a warrior with a drive to be an active part of the solution and a lifestyle columnist with a deadline.
So what am I writing about today? Racial injustice, of course. Specifically, I want to discuss how to raise an anti-racist child as a white parent.
I inherited the kind of privilege that shouldn’t belong just to some — the kind that allows me to believe my family won’t be a regular target of violence, the kind that allows me to be paid closer to a fair wage (emphasis on the word closer), the kind that allows my voice to be heard and acted upon when I call for action.
I am committed to redistributing this privilege.
In her piece in the Paris Review called “Performing Whiteness,” Sarah Bellamy writes, “White folks need to move past their fear and call each other into deep, authentic, and embodied learning and unlearning around what it means to be white in this country.”
So, here goes, with an acknowledgment that my efforts will likely be imperfect.
How do we raise anti-racist children? As white parents, what is our role in nurturing what could be (and must be) our civilization’s most conscious and compassionate generation?
I’m no expert on the subject matter, I’m just a mama (George Floyd’s voice rings in my ears) committed not only to her own Great Unlearning, but to the Great Learning of her and her wife’s almost 4-year-old son.
I make no claim that we are more compassionate than our parents or theirs. But, as parents of young people in the year 2020, we have a longer history of oppression to reference than any who came before us. We also have unprecedented access to resources to expand our consciousness and deepen our understanding.
As Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
History has shown us that being compassionate isn’t enough. Compassion alone gave us the flawed notion of colorblindness (treating people the same because we pretend not to see their skin color, thereby inadvertently erasing their cultures, histories and lived experiences). Compassion alone can only give us whitewashed solutions, even with the best of intentions.
But our bodies and lives have been imprinted by the power dynamics that precede us. In this moment, we must be consciously compassionate — and share this loving awareness with our young ones.
This can take many forms.
I’ll share some of our efforts, but to be clear, it’s not to pat ourselves on the back (on the contrary, we’re aware that we can and must do much more), but with the hope of inspiring other ideas and adding to the collective momentum of the movement.
My wife, Elenor, and I seek out music, books, movies and TV shows that reflect an inclusive and diverse cross section of humanity (can I get an amen for PBS Kids?).
We found a school for our kiddo where the mission is eliminating racism and empowering women, and that is noticeable in what they teach, how they teach it and the diversity of families who attend.
We recently used art as a vehicle to have a conversation with Harvey about the Black Lives Matter movement, and leaned heavily on Laleña Garcia’s piece, “Talking to young children about the Guiding Principles of the Movement for Black Lives.”
And after reading “Alison Roman, the Colonization of Spices, and the Exhausting Prevalence of Ethnic Erasure in Popular Food Culture” on the blog Pajiba we noticed that a rich multicultural part of our lives is the food we eat. So, we have started learning and talking about the people and cultures of the meals we have together.
We call almost everyone around us our “friends,” with the idea that there are the friends we know, and the ones we don’t know yet, but everyone gets our kindness.
I am and would be honored and appreciative to hear how others are nurturing conscious compassion. My email address is below. Or you can comment online, or on The Tribune’s Facebook post or mine.
There are probably few relationships as formative and influential as parents with their young children. And I think it makes sense that when things feel overwhelming, it is important to focus on the places where we can manifest powerful and positive impact.
Our kids are the future, and the future is anti-racist.
Marina Gomberg is a communications professional and lives in Salt Lake City with her wife, Elenor Gomberg, and their son, Harvey. You can reach Marina at firstname.lastname@example.org.