It’s been an eye opening week for me. Even that statement reminds me of the privilege I am afforded just by the color of my own skin. I’ve felt moments of sadness, of uncomfortableness, of helplessness, but for me it’s only been for a week. During this last week it dawned on me that this must be how African Americans and all people of color feel on a regular basis. I know that is a basic lesson from all of this but it’s been lesson ONE of many.
Never in my right mind would I ever think to use the term racist when describing myself. I believe in equality for all man kind. I believe that one should be judged by your character and not the color of your skin. I grew up in Mexico so I know what it is like to be the minority…but that’s just it. I actually have NO CLUE what it is like to be a minority.
What I do know is that the past week has been an opportunity that I am sincerely grateful for. It’s been a chance to look in the mirror and take an inventory of who I am and how I want to show up in the world going forward. I am from a Southern white family and no one talked to me about racism or race. Not because anyone in my family was overtly racist.. it just never really seemed to come up. I read a quote this week that really struck me. ” While white parents intention is to convey the belief to their children that race shouldn’t matter, the message that their children receive is that race doesn’t matter. For race not to matter in the long run, we need to acknowledge now that is does in fact matter a great deal. “
It was with that statement that I knew I had a lot of work to do in my own home with my two very privileged sons to better prepare them for the unjust world that we live in today. Like many of us did this week, we looked around in our own little worlds to see where we could be doing better. Here’s what I came up with:
1. Educating my children on race and the effects of racism. This week I looked around at the books on my children’s shelves and the toys in their closets and realized that there was absolutely no diversity in their tiny worlds. Lots of tractors but no people of color. We remedied that quickly by buying them books on empathy, stories with main characters that don’t look like them, stories about children from all over the globe, and stories about black heros. My girlfriend also bought the boys books about Martin Luther King Jr. & Harriet Tubman. It’s a start. *I had an interesting dialogue with myself before reading the Harriet Tubman book to our 4yr old. “Is he old enough to understand the harsh truth about how African Americans were treated during slavery? Is he ready for this conversation? He’s only four. He’s going to have SO many questions about why someone was allowed to own someone else. About why the slave owners were so mean. About why Harriet’s sisters were sold. He’s going to have so many questions. And then it hit me… Families of color have to have these conversations and even tougher ones with their young children everyday. We read the book immediately. He had questions… and THAT’S THE POINT.
For more great books for Kids about Anti Racism check out Latifa Miles list HERE
2. I realized that my own “library aka Instagram”, wasn’t very diverse either. It pains me to admit that it took national outrage over the killing of George Floyd to get me to realize that I don’t really follow a lot of accounts by people of color. I started to think about why that is and what I came up with is that, its human nature to associate more with people who look like you. When you look at them, you see yourself. Not to mention, Instagram only perpetuates that. The more accounts you follow that look a certain way, the more instagram “suggests” for you other accounts that continue down that same pattern. Before I knew it, and without realizing it… my feed was pretty much completely white washed. Is it racism even if I don’t realize it is happening? This is one of the questions I’ve been asking myself and the answer I’ve come up with is YES. This past week, I’ve taken so much joy in discovering incredible accounts whose beauty & talent I’ve been missing out on all this time. Here are a few of my favorites so far:
3. As a family we are going to start putting our money where our beliefs are. Whether it is donating to organizations that support the causes that we believe in, contributing to political campaigns that are committed to change, spreading your blessings is a great way to make a difference. And that doesn’t just mean donating. Shopping with black business owners is another great way to spread the love! I can tell you RIGHT now that Amazon doesn’t need any more of my money. So, this past week when I was looking to diversify our kids books, I searched for black owned bookstores and I found this one… Semicolon Bookstore & Gallery. The only female black owned bookstore in Chicago AND portions of my purchases went to support other local bookstores! BONUS!
Looking for more ways to support black owned business? Apartment Therapy has a great list!
4. VOTE. Is it November 3rd yet!? I can’t WAIT for November 3rd. Luckily, I won’t have too because Texas is having their runoff elections on July 14th and you can bet I will be there ready to cast my ballot! Voting locally is JUST as important as voting nationally. If not more so. Don’t like what you are seeing from our “leaders” during this time? VOTE THEM OUT OF OFFICE. Make sure that you are registered to vote HERE. Even better.. volunteer for civic service and be the change that you want to see!
5. Silence is Violence. This is something that hit home for me this week. Not standing up for people who are disenfranchised and disadvantaged is just as shameful as committing an act of blatant racism. You can bet that I will be using my loud mouth to stand up for the voiceless. Whether it is an uncomfortable conversation with a family member or using my platform to push the Black Lives Matter agenda forward, I vow to do better.
Examining the origins of systemic racism and how it affects who you are is a very personal journey. Today, I’ve shared with you a few ways that I am committed to making a difference in my small corner of the world. I’ve got a lot more work to do… books to read, stories to listen too. I hope that you feel inspired to take a look at how you can make a difference in your corner. Together we can change the world.
Many Blessings, Love & Peace,