Hey, Mamas of 2020, it is time to get fired up! It is time to stop being desensitized and quiet and small and complacent. If we want a better world for our children–all children regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, or any and all other factors–the time to listen is now.
If not us, then who, and if not now, then when?
When I had my kids, like any mom, my anxiety turned up but never did I have to worry about my kids not being accepted because of the color of their skin. Never did I have to think about how they may not be able to go for a run or be out with friends without worrying about their lives being in danger. Never did I have to think that someone would see them and walk on the other side of the street or hate them without knowing them—just because of their skin color.
After the recent news, one of my friends asked what she was thinking bringing more black boys into the world and that broke my heart because never did I have to think that way about my own children. My privilege has afforded me that luxury.
This isn’t a post about white guilt. This is a post about being and doing better. About being the change that Gandhi said we need to see in the world. It’s about truly making our country the land of the free. But in order for it to truly be the land of the free, it needs to truly be the home of the brave, and we are all being called to the front lines. We are being called to show up and be brave and get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
I am writing this to all mamas because that is my platform. You are my people. And because as women, some of us are the spiritual leaders in our families. We are the curators of our children’s experiences and as my friend and parenting guru Vivek Patel says “conscious parenting is activism”.
It’s time for us to get active
This all might make you feel uncomfortable and that’s okay. It’s better than okay. It is great actually. You should feel uncomfortable about what’s happening in the world. In fact, you should feel disgusted and as Tony Robbins says, you have to be disgusted to make a change.
For a little context, I have been an educator for 14 years but for the latter half of my career, I have taught in predominantly black communities. I’m a white girl from the north and I was teaching adolescent black students about our history. The messy, complicated, and often times frustrating history of our country. And at times that was uncomfortable but that discomfort paled in comparison to the discomfort about talking to them about the present. It’s 2020 and I wish that hate crimes and racial discrimination were things of the past. But sadly seeing people who look like them murdered is in their faces every time they turn on the news.
The Holocaust, The Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Liberation, and especially Gay marriage was not that long ago in the grand scheme of our history and we are still feeling the effects of that today. But as many of us are spiritual leaders in our families, we can band together and help ensure that antisemitism, racism, rape culture, and domestic inequalities, and shaming of the LGBTQ community are truly things of the past.
It is long overdue for us to confront the reality that we have a major role to play in this. We can do better for all of our children. It starts with us and it starts today.
Here are just a few simple places to begin:
- Go there. Get uncomfortable. Get disgusted. Commit to doing the messy work of confronting the current reality in our society and in yourself. Name your biases—explicit and implicit Uncover them. Acknowledge. We all have them. A great tool that I have used before is this free test put on by Harvard.
- Talk to your kids about race. Honestly, they’re never too young. There are different resources that are available that are developmentally appropriate. Here are a few.
- Expose your children to diverse literature. Both the type that overtly talks about acceptance and the value of diversity and the type that just includes POC and LGBTQ and anyone who has a diverse way of looking, thinking, and being in the world and community as protagonists.
- Model acceptance. As parents, we must always remember what we do we also teach. How do we interact with people who are different than us? How do we talk about them? What do we do or say when others don’t talk about someone who is diverse in a kind and respectful way? Little eyes are always watching and little ears are always listening.
- Practice deep, generous listening. Listen to our friends who are marginalized. Ask questions and truly listen to the answers.
- Share diverse voices.
- Donate to a cause that speaks to you and supports this work. Here are a few that I am familiar with but do your own research.
8. Educate yourself. Read perspectives from people who are different from you–and learn how to be an ally. A few great resources on this are:
There is so much work to be done but like any lasting transformation, small changes yield massive shifts. We can’t let our fear hold us back. This post may offend some people and there may be things that are imperfectly ignorant and insensitive here and I’m okay with that because I’m learning and I’m trying and I’m showing up. Even when it’s messy and even when it’s hard, and I am inviting you to do the same.
I will leave you with one of my favorite quotations:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead