Something we talk about often is the importance of strengthening our own racial literacy, and that of our children, in order to foster more positive cross-race friendships and peer behavior. White children (and adults) in particular, are not well poised to be good peers to kids of color if they haven't spent time thinking about both their own racial identity and also how different people's races can lead to very different experiences of the same place, person, or process. Many parents hope that their children can create lasting friendships with children who are different from them in a variety of ways. However, the truth is that many White parents have a dearth of cross-race friendships themselves. In fact, just 15% of White adults report having a close friend of another race.
Coming into the present, the calculated, piecemeal, chipping away at the mandate for school integration is still, sadly, very much alive and present. But as our country now lives with the identity of a ‘post-civil rights era’ society (and all of the ways that this both true and false), the racist policies are cloaked in the morality of the day, and often put under the guise of individual freedom.
Today, the exercising and prioritization of “individual choice” continues to drive segregation in at least two powerful ways: moving and opting out altogether.
With the recent passing of the 65th anniversary of Brown v. Board, I’ve been thinking specifically about the top 2 myths that I encounter a lot concerning segregation and integration. They find their beginning in the mistaken belief that Brown v. Board ended segregation entirely and cleared the way for a “evened out” education system for all students. That idea then gives way to thinking that because a “level playing field” exists for all kids, there’s no harm in white parents making sure that their children get the very best education that their resources can reach.
Celebration in the face of mourning. Love in the face of pain. Connection in the face of fear. This is humanity at its richest. Sharing in that humanity together is the essence of community. The human experience is a story of trauma and tragedy, as well as one of love, connection and hope. As we face the world with our children, and engage in difficult explanations and conversations, we have the opportunity to introduce stories of joy, healing and restoration. As Fred Rodgers famously said, “Look for the helpers.” And if you look hard enough, there they are.
Our history is positively brimming with amazing women who gave their talents to help industries and our society as a whole progress and be more inclusive. Some, we are very familiar with - Harriet Tubman or Susan B. Anthony - and have learned snapshots of their contributions through school or popular culture. Many others, especially Women of Color, are all too often left out of the history books or the mainstream narrative. And that leaves us all the poorer, because we miss out on giving our kids real-life examples of women in different fields, and flourishing in those roles.
Every year, the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History (ASALH) sets a new theme for Black History Month and continues that theme throughout the year. 2019 is the year of reflecting on the Great Migration - the 50 years that saw over 6 million Black people leave the South for the social and economic opportunities the North had to offer. And with the opportunity to better understand the history of our past, we can also use it to help us interpret some of the important trends we are seeing today...what some are calling the “Reverse Great Migration.”
October and November bring us the holidays of Columbus Day and Thanksgiving. Two moments on the calendar that require us to reckon with the way Native people have been treated historically and how we retell that history in the present day. Often times parents find these holidays as their first opportunities to reflect on how to address Native American history and learn more about tribes today. This time of year offers the chance to highlight a counter narrative that Native people are not static - confined to a time in place in history - but dynamic, and very much present and facing oppression today.
Yet confining them to October/November goes to further perpetuate Native people only being present in a specific time - instead of seeing them all around us, all of the time. (And here I am doing just that. I recognize the hypocrisy here, and also firmly believe that today is a great day to start a new pattern of noticing Native voices. #joinme!)
Because we do see Native People everywhere - we just haven’t been taught to recognize their presence. Many states and cities in the United States get their names from the tribes that used to inhabit that land, even Missouri (from the Missouria tribe, present day Ote-Missouria tribe) and Illinois (from the Illini tribe, present day Peoria tribe)! There is so much history that we can be learning about year-round.
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child's Story about Racial Injustice was published by Magination Press in May 2018. This picture book was designed to help parents talk about race and racial injustice with children ages 4-8. As the story begins, some schoolchildren overhear news of a police shooting of an unarmed Black man. The story follows two families as they address their children's questions about this incident. WeStories had an opportunity for a virtual conversation with the authors of this unique and timely book, and we wanted to share their responses with our community.
We have less than a month to go until election day. Present in this campaign season are issues that have plagued our nation for centuries: racism, populism, immigration, inclusion and representation among others.
Embedded in every advertisement, news article, and speech are the questions - Who are we as a nation? How does our past intersect with our promise? What is the meaning of democracy?
As children, we’re taught a fairly simplistic version of democracy - a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting. This simple framework can, at an early age, help bestow the power of the vote. American children are told: your vote counts.
But our nation's history is more complicated.
Recent events in our community have brought conversations about protest back into the spotlight for many people and families in our region. We have found it valuable and important to use this opportunity to expand the conversation about protest in general. We share these points in hopes that they help to add to the narrative of your family conversations.
1. Protest is Part of Our National Identity – and Always Has Been
Protest has been a part of our national fabric and national identity from the very beginning. Specific acts of protest, from the Boston Tea Party on, lead to the very creation of our nation. Protests have continued to be a part of every single social change and advancement across our national history, including civil rights. Our founding fathers protected the act of protest by including these two important rights in our constitution: the right to “peaceably assemble” and the right to “petition the government for a redress of grievances.”