You can find this story on Black Moms Blog, where it originally appeared.
During the time of social change, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor protests, and for White women that are truly trying to figure out how they can raise children who are more self aware of their own privilege, we are all looking for answers on how to make this world a better place.
As women, we know how delicate the conversation of race has been in our country. As mothers, we understand when speaking to our children, we must approach this discussion with normalcy and ease. A four-year-old does not need to be made cognizant of police brutality and mass incarceration. At least, for your children, that is their privilege. For some Black children, even at four years old, they have been viciously made aware of these atrocities. What we see on the news is a publicized view of stories that have gone viral. There are many more cases of police brutality that cameras did not witness and we will never have the opportunity to hear and bring forth justice for.
So mama, how do you do it? What are some ways to introduce the topic of race? Well, it all starts within your own home. Here are 3 ways to introduce the race conversation to your children if you are white:
1. Bring diversity into play time
Children learn best through play. They become familiar with their society by imitation with their toys and through story time. One of the best ways you can start the introduction of race into your household is by purchasing toys that include Black characters. Make sure your children have multiracial dolls and books in their collection. By providing multiracial toys, you are starting a child-led conversation about race.
If your children have dolls, place all of the dolls together and discuss what makes them different. Discuss hair types and skin complexions. It will lead into a conversation of nationality and culture where you can follow it up by opening a map and showing your child where different people originate and what is special about their homelands.
You no longer have the privilege of saying you do not see color. Color is beautiful. It makes us all unique and special in our own way. It is important you do teach your children how to see color in a positive way so they can recognize and acknowledge someone else’s life.
2. Become aware of your own privilege
One of the most powerful realizations you can have as a mother is to recognize your own privilege in motherhood. By doing this, you will subconsciously make changes that improves the betterment of the lives of your own children and those around you. For example, Black moms do not have the luxury to use certain words and subscribe to some of the same ideologies White mothers can find comfort in.
What we say in our homes leaves once our children walk out the door. Your words are then spread through the world through their tiny mouths. Those words fall upon playgrounds and classrooms. Be aware of how you speak around your children, of the names you call them, and how in your freedom, you can inadvertently disregard another person’s struggle.
3. Make yourself the minority in your education
Do you regularly frequent places where you are the only White person in the room? Probably not. For Black people, this is a norm in our life. I have even written an article about my daughter being the only Black girl in her kindergarten classroom. For us, we have lived our lives being the minority and learning to maneuver in a world which shouts that our hair, skin complexion, and facial features are far from America’s beauty standards.
If you have experienced this type of isolation, I am sure you remember the tightness in your chest, the obvious uncomfortableness you tried to shake, and how you attempted to reason with yourself it was all in your head. This is a coping mechanism. It is awkward to be the only White person in a room full of Black people. For the sake of social change, recognize that and then remember the world we live in and how daily, people of color are affected by this.
When it comes to our children, though, how do we properly help them to become the minority in a situation? Let’s start with education. In our school systems, our children are taught that Black history starts with slavery. Immediately, a narrative is created in the minds of our youth that their White skin gives them a level of superiority over their classmates who do not look like them. You can work to change the narrative in your home first. Introduce your children to Black artists, historians, geographical studies of Africa, and influential people of color. When there is a school assignment due, instead of allowing them to pick a White person to research, have them discuss a person of color and how they have made social change that has affected the world.
You’ve got this mama. I hope you find a level of hope in these stories that are shared. My livelihood and that of my daughter’s depends on White people understanding that the only way racism will end is if you see it as a White problem and not just as a Black problem. This isn’t White against Black. This is everyone against racism. Will you fight this fight with me?
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Shanicia Boswell of Black Moms Blog. You can purchase her book here, and follow her journey on Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
Read more from Shanicia here:
‘Her mother told me she could no longer be friends with me because I was black. We snuck around town, stealing moments of friendship when we could.’: Woman says ‘you can change the world’ in wake of Ahmaud Arbery death
Read more stories like this here:
‘My oldest son has said, ‘The school officer treats the black kids meaner. It gives me anxiety.’ I’d never tell you that at the ripe age of 14, my son ‘fits the description.’: Mom says ‘my mama heart breaks for reasons you’ll never fully grasp’
Do you know someone who could benefit from reading this? SHARE this story on Facebook with family and friends.