We are living through some challenging times where acts, words and tragedies are abundantly racist and the world needs us mamas to be unequivocally anti-racist. Now, my guess is, many of you reading this will assert that you are, in fact, not racist – which is a great start – but that doesn’t mean you are anti-racist. Here’s what I mean.
I have the pleasure of working in higher education. What this means is, we spend a lot of time reading and talking, talking and reading, and it has afforded me an incredible opportunity to grow as of late. As a cis-gender, white female faculty member, I joined a book club in which we navigated over several weeks the book How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram Kendi. To be clear, in no way do I feel I’m an expert, or that this one book is the answer to all things. I also don’t believe I have any business telling others what to think, do or feel; however, this book presented many helpful definitions and suggestions that opened my eyes to real scenarios and systems in which I play a part and must choose to make change within.
You see, Kendi shares the notion that saying you’re not racist isn’t enough – that in fact, you must be anti-racist, which means you are firmly against and working against racist words, actions, laws, systems, etc. It becomes a verb instead of an adjective, which is important.
While I, again, am no expert, I strive daily to find ways to serve my colleagues, students and neighbors by improving myself, learning better means to lean into the needs of those in my community, and be an anti-racist. As an anti-racist mama, I know I have a very important role as I strive to raise children who will grow up even more accepting and inclusive than my generation has.
To be an anti-racist mama, I affirm to:
- Pause before I speak when I’m in a situation in which I may have power, and help my children understand why this is important. Listening to others’ perspectives, experiences and culture is the only way we find our commonalities and appreciate our differences.
- Seek opportunities for my children to meet others throughout the greater Cincinnati area outside of our little east side bubble.
- When I see something that isn’t right, say something. Whether it’s a child being treated differently on a playground, a mom not being heard in a school board meeting, or a parent getting bullied in a community Facebook page.
- Being honest with my kids about what is happening in the world, while bringing it to their level. Work to share with my kids how important it is to be anti-racist through actions of love, compassion and kindness.
I am not perfect, and I have room to grow but know that in my heart, I am hurting because of what I see happening around me. I want my children to grow up in a world that is more tolerant and understanding of the beauty of diversity. More importantly, I want my friends and their children to live in a world in which they feel safe doing things like getting their groceries, going for a run, or even when they’re being pulled over for a traffic violation.
Knowing that kids are our future, I have always endeavored to raise mine to be kind humans. Having more awareness through conversations had, I recognize not being a racist isn’t enough; we must find our own individuals pathways to being anti-racist. Our neighbors deserve this.