Who do I want my children to learn from and with at school? This was the question I was having discussing recently with a group of Super Friends. As a parent I want my child to be set up for present and future success. An education is a supremely important part of that. The school my children attend has a white student population of 89.2%, and the median family income is $126,849. The (perceived) benefits of being in this district are numerous. They have the tests scores, well-managed grounds, and reasonable class sizes. However, this presents a problem because they will be raised in an environment of whiteness. I want my kids to be raised aware of the actual makeup of the world and their school system is not representative of the world.
My children will be surrounded almost entirely by kids and adults who look and act like them. They will be educated during their most formidable years in a way that normalizes whiteness. Makes it the default. This will cause them irreparable harm. Yes, being raised in an all-white environment harms white people. We shut ourselves off from the humanity of others because we are not in the position of connecting with people who don’t look and act like us. This harms our souls.
In addition to race, I have been learning more about intersectionality, and how education and money come into power together. My kids will be surrounded by financial privilege. How will this impact them? Their environmental normal that they see will be vacations and new cars. We will not have those luxuries. My kids will not be wearing name brand clothes. Will they recognize this and how will that impact their future career choices? Will they sell their soul in pursuit of the $$$?
As a parent, knowing how race and class play a role in our society, I have to combat these negative consequences. The first thing I have to do is teach my children about race. I must point it out and be explicit about how race is not based on anything other than perception; however, this perception causes immense amounts of harm to people not considered white. We have created race categories where only the label Homo Sapien should exist. Only when my kids know the history behind race can they understand it.
I must also find ways for my children to be surrounded by kids who don’t look like them. I accomplish this by varying the parks my children attend. Simply changing what direction I drive in will change the demographics of the park. The County Park is the best for this because you will find people from all over the world there. Kids of various skin tones play alongside each other. Playing games has always been a conduit for crossing racial, cultural, and gender boundaries.
Secondly, the summer camp I take them has an equal distribution of AAPI, white and black kids. I love that they are surrounded by other children who look and act very differently. Some of the campers speak various languages and eat different food. All the kids eat lunch together so they get to see how the diet of their friends is similar to their diet. Whiteness is no longer the norm. It is important for my kids to learn this in an authentic environment.
Some of my family members are Latinx so that helps cut down the number of white relatives we are surrounded by. However, passably white is still the norm. I do not have many friends of color that have come to my house. This is an issue. I don’t want to make friends specifically because someone is a person of color, however, I do want to be intentional about who I am building friendships with and who is coming to my home. How else are people of color going to come over unless I invite them? How will my intentional decisions about my friendships impact how my children choose their friends?
There is no book of parenting or the right way to do it. Personally, I know I want my children to understand that they are connected to everyone in the world. In order to accomplish this, I have to show them what the world is truly like. I don’t always know the best way to accomplish this goal. It may simply mean moving to a place that is made up of a variety of races and cultures. That is a conversation that has been had, as well. Right now all I can do is be aware of the people that I keep company with.
This blog was written with the intent that those who read it will reflect on how segregated the lives of their children and families are. Hopefully, that will be the impact it has as well. This is not a how-to manual nor am I looking for pats on the back. I simply am reflecting on how I am trying to combat Nazi rallies and the newly public acceptance of hatred by resisting in my own life and that of my children. Humanism starts by teaching my own kids how to be anti-racist. Thank you for reading that’s my time.