This year we began to learn about, and celebrate Kwanzaa. It felt clunky and foreign, and new, but, we went for it. It was important for the boys, and for us. Learning about, and (for our boys) experiencing Black culture is paramount.
It got me thinking about how hard it is for us to teach, to REALLY teach our kids, not about difference, but about different THINGS; ideas, cultures, religions, and....race. If we taught about real tangible differences, as opposed to teaching, “different is okay” or “we accept all people regardless of their skin color”, I think the groundwork would be laid for raising little critical thinkers and allies. What does it actually MEAN to a child when we say, “all people are created equal”, or “we’re all the same on the inside” if white children only see themselves reflected back in their friendships, and their larger communities. If we teach about different cultures, religions, ways of dressing, hair types, foods, wouldn’t that be helpful in creating a more equitable and just world? Shouldn’t we start with that? Part of the difficulty in teaching that way, is that most of us (white people) didn’t learn about these things (and got to just exist enjoying our privilege of being centered in all things), or experience them.
And so now, I know some of us are starting to know better, want to do better and, WILL do better. But not enough of us.
Yes, it’s tricky. And feels funny, and boy is it easier to stay within our own safe ideas and celebrate our own cultures and traditions and not have to talk about real difference with our kids. But we can not do that.
I know many white women are trying and DOING better in actively teaching their children about race and racism. I know 7 of them personally, who show up every other week to discuss and question and take actionable steps towards raising anti racist children. It’s an honor to sit in conversation with them. I wish all white mothers were working as intentionally and thoughtfully as I know these moms are.
And so, back to Kwanzaa. Learning about it and teaching it is messy and choppy. I read about it, but when you actually start speaking to it out loud? It gets a lot harder. And then your kids ask questions, and you don’t know. So, together you find the answers and keep digging and learning. And so, if you’re reading all the right books about whiteness and Blackness and privilege and systemic racism, I applaud you, I commend you, but the next step is teaching it to your children, because they don’t know. And if they don’t know, they will draw their own conclusions based on what the world around them tells them and unfortunately that isn’t the fairest or most just way. It’s currently the way of the world, and it’s our job to interrupt and help change the narrative.
This is my long messy way of saying, this is what matters this year. And next year. And all the years after.