To my Black, Indigenous, and People of Color followers, colleagues, and clients, I welcome your feedback and guidance on how I can do better by you. Do not feel obliged, I know you have done your fair share already. I want you to know that I see you, I admire you, I cherish you and I am here to support you and your family. I promise to listen, learn, and do my very best to understand and dismantle the injustices that have been perpetrated on you and your communities.
The following is written from my white female perspective for other white parents to wake up to the opportunity to change and better ourselves for our children’s sake, for humanity’s sake.
Coming back last Monday, after five days off the grid, was a rude and necessary awakening.
A trip that had been planned long before covid19 and postponed until it felt reasonable to travel. A girl’s weekend away (no hubby, no children), in a cabin at the entrance of a National park still closed to the public.
An entire National park to ourselves, both locals I was hiking with had never experienced seeing zero cars in the parking lot. We were able to admire the perspective of the giant sequoias from afar. A positive covid19 experience.
Giant sequoias are the world’s most massive tree and among the tallest, widest, and longest-lived of all organisms on Earth. Standing next to them makes you feel minuscule. I was in awe and in total reverence for their majestic beauty.
The experience is etched in my mind and heart forever.
Coming back was a whole other experience. A six-lane Los Angeles freeway deserted as phone alerts informed us there was a curfew in place due to protests. At one point we crossed a dozen sand-colored armored trucks.
We immediately realized that the recent deaths of both Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd had changed the world forever. We tuned into the news and scrolled through our social media feed.
Say their name.
Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old man, died on February 23, 2020.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old man, died May 25, 2020.
Both unarmed, both Black Americans, both killed by racism.
I’m aware there are countless other racist crimes being perpetrated in the world, yet these two were filmed and it woke me and shook me up. Brought me to tears, rage, fear, and hope.
“Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”Will Smith in a 2016 interview.
How many countless tragic deaths will it take to seriously address the systemic and generational racism in the US and yes worldwide?
Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old young man jogging in his neighborhood, was shot and killed by two men, a father and son duo. Generational racism.
This could have gone unnoticed by those not personally related to him, yet it was filmed and released for the world to see what generational racism looks like.
The video is etched in my mind and heart forever.
I can’t even imagine the pain and grief his family and community have had to endure because of this horrific event. And if that was not enough we then witnessed the brutal killing of George Floyd by men in police uniforms. An example of police brutality filmed for the world to see.
Listening and learning about what our Black sisters and brothers have endured for much too long is necessary, it is mandatory. We cannot look away. It is an inevitable awakening that needs to be transformed into activism for the sake of our children and our shared humanity.
As I shared on this week’s podcast, I’m embarrassed at my own ignorance, my own naivete, and I am truly sorry for not having paid attention sooner. I realize how privileged I am. The simple fact is that I get to educate myself on these matters instead of having no choice but to endure these injustices day in and day out.
I’ve traveled the world and I’ve visited extremely impoverished countries feeling helpless in seeing how others are barely surviving in horrific conditions. Yet, today I realize that this is also true in my own community, right here in one of the world’s wealthiest countries. A country built on a dark gruesome past of genocide, slavery, segregation, and ongoing racism.
This awakening is etched in my mind and heart forever.
I’m hopeful that these events are taking us one step closer to justice and peace for all. There is much work to be done. The time is now.
Just like the sequoias made me feel minuscule so does facing the deep-rooted racism of this country. I know and have faith in our shared desire for a better future for ourselves, but most importantly for our children and the generations to come.
I believe that as white parents we have the duty to actively do the work of dismantling white supremacy, “the belief that white people are superior to those of all other races, especially the black race, and should, therefore, dominate society.” (defined by lexico.com) This can no longer dictate our existence and that of all children. They deserve better from us.
The work starts at home, literally. It starts with us being aware of our own bias and unlearning what we have unconsciously accepted and been desensitized to. It’s hard work and I know we can do it together.
We can no longer look away. We must better ourselves for the sake of our children, in hopes they will never see or endure such tragedies.
Black Lives Matter. Listen, Learn and do Better.
Below you will find a few resources to help you along the road of awareness and action.
RESOURCES FOR YOU
- So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
- We Live for the We: The Political Power of Black Motherhood by Dani McClain
- Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad
- Motherhood So White: A Memoir of Race, Gender, and Parenting in America by Nefertiti Austin
- How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Educators to Follow:
- Our Liberation Is Bound Together
- Talking to Children About Racial Bias
- Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race
- Resources for talking to children about race and racism
- Anti-racism resources for white people
- Becoming better allies
- Anti-racism Resource Guide by Tasha K
- Ways to Take Action + More Resources
I ENCOURAGE YOU TO PAY WHAT YOU CAN TO THE EDUCATORS WHO HAVE TAKEN THE TIME TO PUT THESE EXTENSIVE LISTS TOGETHER. MOST HAVE VENMO, PAYPAL OR A GO FUND ME. MAKE SURE TO SUPPORT THEM. THANKS!
- 13TH The documentary, 2016. Directed by Ava DuVernay
- SELMA, 2014. Directed by Ava DuVernay
- JUST MERCY, 2019. Directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
- Documentaries About Black History to Educate Yourself With
- Black History Movies to Educate Yourself With
RESOURCES FOR YOUR CHILD
- Children’s Books to support conversations on race and racism
- 8 tips for choosing “good” picture books featuring diverse, BIPOC characters
- 50 Children’s Books That Celebrate Diversity
I will continue updating this page as new resources are discovered.
Please let me know how I can continue to be of support to you and your family.
2 thoughts on “Racism, parenting, and giant sequoias.”
Moving letter Jeanne Mary. Thank you.
It means the world to me that you would be reading this and responding. Thank you. Much love to you.