If it’s hard for you to add more meetings and actions into your family schedule, “act in” where you are.
What it is: Racism is everywhere, we don't have to go to a special meeting to take action for racial justice. As families, we engage with a lot of people outside of “activist world” and can bring them into racial justice work through the mutual interest of raising kids in a world without racism.
Photo credit: Rivkah Beth Medow
What you need: Find 2 friends or allies in the places you already go with your children & family and change the places you already are to get started.
What you can do:
- Ask your school or library to host a “talking to kids about race” workshop or panel for families, or racial justice movie night. After the event, ask people what they feel called to do in your community, and find people who would like to meet and work together more.
- Ask your teacher &/or principal what resources they use in talking with kids about race & racial justice. Volunteer to read books about racial justice in your classrooms. Bring in alternative narratives about holidays, history and other social justice issues like gender identity with a racial justice lens.
- Send your children to a public school where white students are in the numeric minority. American schools are as segregated as they were in 1968, even in diverse cities. In many of these cities, like San Francisco, 50% of White families send their children to private schools & have since integration efforts in the 1970s.
- Join organizations in your community and nationally and work to get police out of schools and increase education justice and equity in public schools. Dignity in Schools and the Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools are two good groups. Advocate in your school & district for the policies they recommend, and use your privilege to challenge policies with racist impacts (regardless of intent). For starters, do you know the suspension data for your school, broken out by race? Is the school board, family council or PTA of your school/district led by White families?
- Oppose the expansion of charter schools, which (as a sector) increase segregation and take resources from the public schools which serve the vast majority of Black students and other children of color. If you are a part of a largely white public school, advocate for integration and talk frankly about what your child has access to under a system of separate and unequal schools.
- Ask your church to host a Love is Unstoppable event.
“Acting In” For Racial Justice
I asked our preschool if we could host a Raising Race Conscious Children webinar for families and the teachers said yes. We’re a part of a preschool that is mostly White and Asian, like my family, and there is no social justice focus to the school. Before the webinar I felt isolated and (wrongly) assumed that other families around me weren’t also thinking about issues of race and wanting to take some kind of action. The webinar was an opportunity to bring people into conversations about racial justice who otherwise wouldn’t have them.
I was heartened to see that half of the families showed up! The webinar was a good conversation starter for individual families and for us as a community. Setting up the webinar was simple, we put out a sign up sheet to get interest, the teachers provided child care, and we passed the hat to cover the webinar cost and pizza.
I learned a few things from this first effort. It’s important for teachers and school staff to be a part of the webinar, instead of providing childcare. I also moved from step “A” to step “Z” too quickly, asking the school to adopt a policy that would make us a race conscious school. The director said “yes” but she, the teachers and some parents who didn’t participate in the webinar didn’t really know what we were talking about. They didn’t know what would be expected of them, and why a “we don’t see race” approach actually supports racism. It was too much too fast. Now, I see the Raising Race Conscious Children webinar as a good first step to finding allies, looking to start with 2-5 people who want to do more in our community. When we work together as a group, we are more effective.
This page is a part of the "Four Family Centered Actions You Can Take For Black Lives Matter (and Four Others You Shouldn’t)" toolkit. Join the Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Families Facebook page for ongoing resources and an anti-racist community.