Talking to White Kids About What’s Happening at the Border

Talking to White Kids About What’s Happening at the Border

First let me say that I am far from a parenting expert. Most days I feel lucky to keep my kids alive. I won’t pretend to know it all – or even that much! – when it comes to parenting. But I do know that silence isn’t an option for me. I also know that my parents played a key role in how I have come to be the person that I am. My parents opened conversations about troubling, hard things that they saw in happening in the World. When I was 8 years old they talked to my sister and me openly about what was then called the “AIDS epidemic”, outlining what was true and falsities we would likely hear. They answered our questions, armed us with both the knowledge and language to disrupt lies, and were sure that we knew people living with AIDS. They wanted my sister and I to see the humanity and not just hear a narrative. This is just one example. And it shaped me profoundly. How many conversations with your parents can you remember that shaped your life?

I am a white mother to two white boys. This is not something that I take lightly. In fact I see it as a pivotal responsibility, and an opportunity – it’s my chance to be a part of the change that I wish to see. It requires commitment, damn near constant reflection, self-awareness, and adjustment, and a whole lot of hope. It requires my willingness to acknowledge and unlearn my own racist and sexist beliefs and practices, to fight the urge to compartmentalize and not actually feel the pain of the mothers, fathers, and children who are being separated and detained, and to get comfortable being really uncomfortable. The truth is that actually talking to my kids about this stuff is the easy part.

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