Sociologist Maggie Hagerman has been documenting white kids’ racial attitudes over the last decade and is observing a shift from “I don’t see racism or think racism exists” to “I see racism but I don’t care.”
Her research on the dangers of racial apathy serves as one of the strongest calls for our work at We Stories that we’ve seen.
Psychologist Derald Wing Sue explains this same shift and introduces an important concept: instead of a “conscious desire to hurt,” racial apathy conveys a “failure to help.”
Hagerman explains “that failure is twofold: it is not just a failure of action, it’s a failure of empathy — it’s the failure to even care about the persistence and consequences of racism in the United States. This “failure to help” — this failure to concern oneself with the suffering and humanity of others — is a powerful tool, used to reproduce and perpetuate existing racial oppression.”
This underscores what we know and see and fear. Left unspoken, unpacked, and unchallenged we who are not most impacted (white people) become numb and apathetic. We create a normal that accepts, allows, and perpetuates racism. Our children notice. And they do as we do. They fail to help too.
This truth is hard to stomach. It flies in the face of who many of us want to be and who we want our children to be.
The good news is that we know that another story is possible. We know that racial apathy is a fate that we do not have to (and must not) accept.
We know this because we have a front row seats to the deep, personal, inter-generational transformation that hundreds of families are experiencing as a part of We Stories. Families who are taking thousands of intentional steps towards becoming families who help, families who act, families stand up against racism.
Several families from our community shared their stories of transformation, speaking to how small steps can add up to big change. (We invite you to see them all here.)
Julia shared how changing her bookshelf has changed her perspective and influenced her willingness to say something and do something about racism more often.
Meghan shared how the reading of one story in particular helped her to question an important part of her own racial socialization and then flip the script for her child who now knows that there are good times to be a rule breaker.
Gina shared how far she’s climbed out of a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness now that she has what she termed a “ladder of tangible actions.”
Anne shared how she now realizes that anti-racism is not just a mindset but a way of life.
St. Louis has been at the forefront of the national racial justice movement, and what our white families are and aren’t doing is an important part of that story.
We want YOU to be a character in that story too.
As we near year end there are two important ways that you can help We Stories engage not just this generation of citizens but the next one too.
FUND THE CHANGE! Please GIVE today to fund the extension of our work with more than 800 families already engaged in our community.
BE THE CHANGE! Please JOIN us by registering for our upcoming cohort of families ready to come off the sidelines and help move us towards an equitable future.
Whether you are at the start of your journey toward an anti-racist parenting practice or well on your way, you know - and we know - this work matters. And each day it feels more urgent to get off the sidelines and act.
There are times when our gut-level knowing, our hearts, our urgency to act and the best available academic research match up. This week brought us one of those moments.