*This is a letter from a white parent to all white parents, including myself, who are raising white children. It is not a “how to”. It is a reminder of our responsibility as parents. There are countless incredible resources for “how to,” but I am here just as one parent to another. I don’t know everything about how to do this, but I do know that it is our responsibility to learn.
Dear white parents,
I never worry when my children or husband leave the house that they are in danger because of the color of their skin. I will never have to worry about that.
This is one of our greatest privileges. We move throughout the world without the unceasing fear that our very existence will be considered a danger or a threat to someone. We, as well as our children, will not experience systemic racism, discrimination or violence because of the color of our skin.
I remember going jogging after Ahmaud Arbery was murdered. I went in the broad daylight through my Atlanta neighborhood, and I have never felt my “whiteness” so acutely. I looked all around me, watched every car or person pass, never once afraid in the broad daylight of a neighborhood that I would be considered such a threat that I would be murdered.
I remember going jogging after Ahmaud Arbery was murdered…and I have never felt my “whiteness” so acutely.
I felt the privilege of white skin as I ran. I cried as I thought about how my family members were going to see me come home. I thought about the moments and the panic leading up to Ahmaud Arbery’s not coming home from his simple jog. The panic, fear and terror.
On a Facebook post, Glennon Doyle perfectly said, “There is no such thing as other people’s children.” If you are a parent, you know what this means or, at least, you should.
To be honest, I was not much of a kid person before I had my own. Sure, I appreciated them from afar, but I wasn’t the one signing up to nanny for extra money.
When I had my own children, I felt the love, rage, fear and commitment of all parents coursing through my heart. How could we love these vulnerable, beautiful, impossible little beings any more? Even more than that, how could we protect them from harm? How could we keep them safe in this big, sometimes wonderful but also terrifying world?
This, white parents, is where our privilege differentiates us from our fellow parents who are Black. To be honest, I don’t care if you agree with me because it is the truth regardless. Our paths, as white parents, of deep love and desperate hope to protect our babies and see them live and thrive into adulthood is never threatened by the constant, incessant force of racism, systemic racism, discrimination and downright violence for the color of our skin that Black parents face.
I want us all to hear what a privilege that is. We share the same hopes and dreams as Black parents, but we will never face the same obstacles or fears that Black parents do.
We share the same hopes and dreams as Black parents, but we will never face the same obstacles or fears that Black parents do.
We will never need to have the same conversations with our children about how to keep their hands on the steering wheel at 10 and 2 if stopped by police. We will never have the same fears when they leave the house or have to prep them for how they may be just as smart, work twice as hard and still get looked over.
We don’t have to do that.
So then, what do we do? If there is, in fact, no such thing as other people’s children. If once we became parents we entered into the sacred club of protecting, nurturing and cheering on the next generation, what do we need to do?
We need to model for and raise our kids to actively work until everyone is treated equally. If the roles were reversed and I were a Black parent in this country, I would hope that my fellow parents who were white would do anything and everything to help to protect my children.
If the roles were reversed, I would hope that my fellow parents who were white would do anything and everything to help to protect my children.
We have an opportunity as white parents to influence an entire generation of our children for good—an entire generation. We have an opportunity to change the course of history, and it is our responsibility as parents raising little human beings to do so.
We must see that the solution is not the responsibility of the people facing discrimination to fix. No, the solution is the responsibility of the people who have historically discriminated against and oppressed others.
If there is no such thing as other people’s children and if we are all truly connected, I see it as a great river fed by countless streams. We are all one.
What will we feed into that stream? Is it justice? Is it empathy and a refusal to compromise on equality? Will we be sending children out into the river who not only love but fight for the equal treatment of their neighbors?
Or will we poison it? There is no neutral ground here.
There is, indeed, no such thing as other people’s children, and we have the responsibility to raise our children in a way that uncompromisingly protects our Black peers, neighbors, friends and strangers. This is the way the world is meant to be.
There is, indeed, no such thing as other people’s children.
As parents, we have not only the hopes and power to influence our own children, but we have the hopes and the power to influence the world around them. Let’s do so.
Why is it important for all parents, especially white parents, to talk to their children about race and racism? In what practical ways can parents implement appreciation for diversity and advocacy against injustice into how they raise their kids?
Image via Raisa Zwart Photography