Values, Vision, and Accountability in Antiracism Work

Vision and Values


I come to the work of antiracism and social justice as a mother, a person of faith rooted in the Christian tradition, a former community organizer, and as a white person seeking to take responsibility for the ways racism harms Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC), as well as the ways racism has both benefited and harmed my ancestors and me. 


Great sadness and anger bring me to this work, but so does great love. I’m especially drawn to antiracism because of my love of children. There is so much beauty and possibility in all our children. I want every child to be able to flourish, yet racism so often squelches their bodies, minds, and spirits. 


I do this work for BIPOC children whose future and present are threatened by forces including police brutality, white supremacist curriculum, and racist treatment by white classmates. I do this work for parents of color who are exhausted by their efforts to protect their children from racism. I do this work for white children, to help them learn early that being white does not have to mean participating in racism and staying silent in the face of white supremacy. I do this work for white parents and educators who long to show children a different way, but are unsure of where to begin. 


I seek to live out the following principles in my antiracism work:

  • - Teach children antiracism as early as possible. 

  1. - Follow the lead of BIPOC antiracist teachers and community activists, while not burdening them with responsibilities that antiracist white people must learn to shoulder ourselves. 

  2. - Connect learning with action. Children as well as adults are interested in how they can be part of creating change.

  3. - Address both the inward and the outward effects of racism. White supremacy has misshapen our bodies, minds, and spirits, as well as our laws and policies.

  4. - Mistakes are inevitable. Expecting ourselves or others to be perfect in their antiracist efforts is counterproductive. 

  5. - Antiracism is a lifelong journey; our learning and action steps are never complete.

The roots of my antiracism work

 

There are many experiences that have brought me to the antiracism work I do today, some which involved formal training and others that did not. My first awareness of systemic racism came from observing how race shaped the majority Black (yet white-led) public schools and the segregated white church I attended from elementary through high school. 


Undergraduate and graduate school classes in multicultural education, the sociology of race and class, and Black and womanist theology helped me develop an analysis of the everyday ways racism worked. During graduate school, I worked as an intern for two years on workers rights campaigns for Interfaith Worker Justice, helping me understand how race, immigration policy, poverty, and violations of workers’ rights are intertwined. 


After graduating from seminary and being ordained in the United Methodist Church, I founded and directed Workers Interfaith Network, a Memphis-based faith and worker rights coalition, for 10 years. I learned so much from Black and Latinx low-wage workers about how the dual forces of racism and economic oppression harmed both them and our greater community. I also had the chance to practice many different ways of engaging people of faith in justice work, even if they didn’t view themselves as “activists.”


Soon after our youngest son was born (nine years ago), I left the world of community organizing to focus primarily on parenting. I became increasingly concerned with how to integrate my antiracist and social justice values into my child’s life. Other parents often told me they longed for the same things. I started to immerse myself in the world of multicultural children’s literature, something I’d first loved long ago, when I had plans to become an elementary school teacher. 


As the campaign season for the 2016 presidential election heated up and openly white supremacist statements were on the rise, I began to hear from blog readers, mostly white parents, that they especially wanted help talking to their children about racism. As I learned from sources including Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, Raising Race Conscious Children, Wee the People Boston, Dr. Jennifer Harvey, EmbraceRace, and conversations with my own child, my work increasingly shifted to antiracism and white children.


The role of white people in antiracism work


I believe that the work of antiracism is different - but complementary - for white people, Black people, and non-Black people of color. The leaders of Wee the People, a Black led kid activist group out of Boston, talk about it being the responsibility of white people to dismantle racism, and the work of Black people to heal from the effects of racism.


This means that while some antiracism work can and should be done in multiracial spaces, there’s also a benefit to spaces that are geared toward support and healing for Black individuals and families, as well as spaces that are designed to help white people do their own work in dismantling racism.  


I have been asked whether creating books and learning spaces geared toward white people is a form of centering whiteness. In order to learn how to de-center whiteness, white people must first learn to see how whiteness shapes their own reality in ways that are often made to seem normal. For that reason, it's vital that white people grow, learn, and take responsibility for un-doing racism together as one part of our antiracism work. 


Mentors, peers, and practitioners whose work has influenced me


Those who I consider mentors in the work of antiracism include Leone Jose Bicchieri of Working Family Solidarity, Linda Thomas of Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago, Jardana Peacock of Roots and Resilience retreats, Lucretia Carter Berry of Brownicity, Chemay Morales-James of My Reflection Matters, and Yolanda Williams and Domari Dickinson of the Conscious Parenting for Social Justice Collective


I have also gained much studying from the writings and work of many antiracism practitioners. (See my recommended antiracism resources below to explore their work and others.) 


Accountability and my continuing learning

 

I seek to be accountable in my antiracism work in the following ways:

  1. - Seeking feedback on my work from peers and mentors who do antiracism work with both adults and children, both white and BIPOC folks. 

  2. - Donating 10% of my income to BIPOC-led antiracist and social justice organizations. 

  3. - Continuing to engage in antiracist learning and self-reflection through study, being mentored, and participating in workshops and other group experiences. 

  4. - Encouraging my readers and students to learn from antiracism resources created by BIPOC practitioners. 

  5. - Promoting #ownvoices social justice and multicultural children’s books whenever possible.

  6. - Amplifying to my readership calls to action from BIPOC-led organizations, especially those that involve children. 

  7. - Participating in My Reflection Matters Village and the Conscious Parenting for Social Justice Collective, Black and Brown-led groups that focus on liberated parenting, anti-racism, and social justice.

Recommended antiracism resources


I have collected a number of antiracism resources specifically geared to parents and educators here


I also recommend the following general antiracism resources (some of the links below are affiliate links. See my disclosure policy here):


Brownicity community membership


Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson. 


Conscious Parenting for Social Justice Collective


Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation by Jennifer Harvey.


EmbraceRace "Talking Race and Kids" webinars.


How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. 


I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. 


An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz.


Me and White Supremacy: Combat Racism, Change the World, and Become a Good Ancestor by Layla Saad. 


My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies by Resmaa Menakem.


My Reflection Matters Village


Practice Showing Up: A Guidebook for White People Working for Racial Justice by Jardana Peacock. 


Set Free: A Journey Toward Solidarity Against Racism by Iris DeLeon-Hartshorn, Tobin Miller Shearer, and Regina Shands Stotfus. 


So You Want to Talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo. 


White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism by Robin Di’Angelo.

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