His comments weren't in response to the Trayvon Martin case (which we did not share with him, full disclosure) but in response to learning about Civil Rights and MLK in school. We had never had a conversation about race before because we wanted to keep him in the "love and acceptance" bubble that many of you mentioned in yesterday's comments.
As most of you know, we live in Los Angeles. Our friends are a melting pot of different cultures and religions and races and sexual orientations. Archer's included. He had no idea that segregation occurred, that there was a time (in very recent history!) when he would have attended a different school than his best friends because of his/their difference in skin color. That blew his mind and broke his heart because of course it did. Of course!
I shared Archer's commentary in yesterday's post because like many of our conversations these last few days, his words were coming from a place of concern, empathy, frustration and disenchantment. Feelings I can certainly relate to at the moment and I thought, perhaps you guys could, too.
As I said in the comments of yesterday's post, children say aloud the things we often feel but refuse to say. And what he said (as it so often is) was a wake-up call to me that we needed to have a conversation, not only about racial injustice but about how far we've come as a society and how far we still must go.
Sometimes it IS an embarrassment of riches to be on the privileged side of society. We are taught that everyone is equal but is everyone TRULY treated equally? (This is a great post by my friend Kristen if you haven't already read it.)
Just because race is a non-issue in your household, doesn't mean it isn't an issue. Just because racism isn't your problem, doesn't mean it isn't OUR problem.
Anyway, I wanted to include some of your comments, which I thought might be helpful for those of you trying to navigate this topic with your kids. Because we HAVE NO CHOICE but to navigate this topic with our kids. Racial injustice is a large part of our history (and present, unfortunately). It's taught in school (as well it should be) and we must know how to to respectfully broach these issues/topics/truths with our children.
***Something I think might be a wonderful resource to you is the material that's out there on how to be an ally (googling that phrase and the word racism for gobs of resources). I think that, especially with children, we have to talk not only about what's hard in the world, but about the ways that we can help work to make it better. And white children need to learn how to be allies to people of color (POC) in the struggle against structural, institutionalized racism, because oppressed people should not carry that burden alone. Learning to be an ally is a process of learning when to speak out, learning not to expect POC to educate you on issues of racism, and learning how to not make something about you. - Amelia
I grew up going to probably about 90% African American public schools in Detroit as a middle class, shy white girl, and I often felt excluded, sometimes based on race (not maliciously usually so much as kids tendency to stick to the familiar) - sometimes not based on race, of course. Nevertheless, I never once was made to feel that I was in any way inferior or that there was a single reason that I wouldn't be able to do anything in the world I set my mind to, which is partially about great parenting, but I really believe is in large part ingrained in all Americans from early childhood, that white people have all the doors open to them, where other groups need to try busting the door down. Reading the part of Malcolm Gladwell's Blink about racial priming and how African American students would perform significantly more poorly on tests when simply asked what their race is was a real eye opener. It's not that I feel like white people should go around feeling guilty all the time, but making a real effort to stare privilege in the face, acknowledging that it exists, and keeping it in the front of one's mind when making all the little decisions and having the individual conversations that make up one's interactions with society seems to me a civic duty. - Emily
This is super dorky, but I have a Harry Potter quote that (for me) speaks to this. Because I'm a white girl too...and it's hard to explain these nuances. In one of the books Harry is struggling with some things he's learned about his past and his potential legacy to an evil group. While he's turned down a chance to work with them, he's stressed by the fact that he's technically associated with them. He shares this with Dumbledore (the head master) and Dumbledores response is "It is our CHOICES that make us who we are." To me this is very profound. And perhaps the beginning of how you explain the past we are linked to as white people (or any other race really...we all have our crap to deal with I suppose). We've done some lame things as a race. But we as individuals aren't defined by that. - AE
Thanks to everyone for participating in this conversation.