Families for Racial Justice Notes

Welcome! This conference call was convened by SURJ- Showing up for Racial Justice.  Over the next hour, we will be focusing on families for racial justice, thinking about parents and people in families trying to engage people at all ages in racial justice (RJ) work.

There’s a new blog Raising Race Conscious Children and because there’s been a call from Mothers Against Police Violence (correction- the group has changed their name to Mothers United for Justice). We’ll discuss plans for Mothers Day coming up on Sunday, May 9th and ways to engage against racial and police violence. This call is being facilitated by Dara Silverman, the National Coordinator of SURJ.


Background- SURJ was founded in 2009 to fight rise in attacks on POC, need to recruit and engage more white people in racial justice work. Have people from many of our 65 chapters on the call.

Why did people get on the call?

Lynn in the Pacific NW- I’ve been working to create healing centers.

Beth in the NE- I’m a white parent partnered with another white woman with two African American children. We’re talking here about how to talk about race with our kids as white parents with Brown and Black kids, how do we do justice?

Dara- This is a crucial issue and something we think about a lot- how to figure out how to prepare them for living in a racist society where they’ll be targeted and how racism is so systemic and is in every part of our society.

One of the core values of SURJ is how do we do the work knowing that we’re going to succeed sometimes and make mistakes sometimes, learning from those mistakes and keep going. You can see the rest of those values on our website.

Joan- I used to do a program that fizzled out and I have so many resources that I’d like to continue.

Dara- great, one of the goals of this call is to share resources about how to work with kids and families in action. Thank you.


We’re moving to updates from people around the country who are organizing primarily white parents that are engaging other white parents, but not exclusively in racial justice work.

Amy in Portland- I’m with Creating Democracy. I’m a white, straight woman with two white kids. I’m working to bring my values of collective liberation into my parenting. the framework that’s been helpful to me has been “Anti-bias curriculum.” A trainer does this in OR and CA doing positive self-identity across race, gender, Socioeconomic status and looking at those who are different, to name unfairness and to be active around that. Our job is to understand from an educator perspective to be able to talk about that partnering with a preschool and looking for partners to build community around those values. We also work to bring our families into activist spaces and bring in families to march together and giving voices to kids in activist spaces.

Rebecca Frederick, Louisville- Parents for Social justice- educating ourselves and our children for sustainable social change, working to be conscious about bringing ourselves into action and trying to create space for white families and those in privileged neighborhoods to link up in the movement. We are trying to get things off the ground- finding a regular meeting time is hard for families. We’re starting an online wish list for POC orgs to find things we can do from home to contribute. Also doing crafts to spark conversation. Also sing-ins, big family party with songs and stories and places to share in that space together. Also focusing locally on a tour to places in town that have had racial tensions- the tour shows one part of town that another part of town has this history and showing the kids that both sides of the town are the same. With the workshops we have content around what to talk about with your kids and have activists talk about what’s going on in the movement, and then have an action like writing a letter or craftivism- things they can do at home with their family, and not that they have to march.

Dara- Thanks. A lot of parents struggle with how to talk with kids at an early age, POC talk with kids at 7 or 8 and white parents start at around 11 or 12 at the earliest. so how do we shift that and talk about power differentials in ways that kids can understand at all ages.

Sachi Feris  from Raising Race-Conscious Kids- I was a teacher and founded Border Crosses that brought 10 and 11 YO children from de-facto segregated neighborhoods to get together to talk about race and ethnicity. I developed resources for young children to talk across racial divides. Three years ago I had my first child and brought my beliefs to my parenting. In schools we often had some type of curriculum but in families we didn’t and it’s really up to an individual and parent to decide what to bring to light in the family. With the history of color-blindness among parents means that many white parents don’t bring race up and I feel like if you don’t talk about it you can’t change it. So i think the earlier you bring it up the better. I mean really talking to babies because I mean raising a race conscious child means starting from the beginning. We can take that from books, and talk about these things early on in the family so that it’s safe and normal to talk about race. That’s the driving philosophy. I launched this recently to get the word out and I’m also looking for voices other than my own of families that are talking about this with their children. If you have a story I’d love to share it because it’s important and powerful to hear many voices of people who are talking about race with children so they can create change around racial equity.

If you look on our site at resources there are pieces on social change and activism and children. Part of that strategy for me is when I’m talking with a 3-year old, for example, that activism is something they can be part of at any age. It starts with having that transparent conversation with them.

Dara- that’s great. so many parents are looking for tools about how to talk about race and how to see it as interconnected. To go more in depth we’ll hear from Rebecca to hear about plans for Mothers Day and Mothers Against Police Violence.

Rebecca- The march started by the mother of Maria Hamilton whose son was killed by the police. She is a passionate woman and has a vision for a million moms to join together on Mother’s day and march in our hometown for mothers who have lost sons and daughters. The event will start on Friday May 8th, will be a ceremony, performers, spoken word. Saturday morning is the March, there is a prayer circle at 9, people gathering at 10, then marching at 11 to Dept. of Justice where they will read demands:

-investigate specific cases and into police depts overall.

We’re asking people to come and to from how to show support and to of course donate- there’s a crowd rise. you can also donate and ask people to raise awareness- maybe make us some signs and mail them to us directly so that you’re still a part of it. This will also raise awareness about the march. you could also do some fundraising and talk about how we as white mothers can support these mothers in the grief that maybe we’ll never understand. I have some websites if you want it or you can contact me directly rebefred14@gmail.com  502.802.6794 if you want to see our site:

Mothers United for Justice

Million Moms March

Dara- It’s so important to link to families that are grieving for having lost someone to the police. We have groups and want to talk about what strategies you’ve had to talk about racial justice with families, what challenges come up and how can we engage more families in RJ work and build this movement?

Report Back

Sounded like fruitful conversations about talking about race as an ongoing conversation and finding ways to engage families.

Tara Fleming in CA- I wanted to challenge idea of Mother’s day- it was originally for women who lost sons in the war and remember many children don’t have moms, same sex families, kids without moms- needs to be reframed and make it about significant women in your life and making it relevant for all kids even if they don’t have moms. Inclusive of queer families. we have resources on our website.

Dara- that’s one of the ways why at SURJ we frame this as families in RJ and using mother’s day as a hook.

Thinking about action steps coming out of this. Call from groups in Louisville, Wisconsin, Oregon and others, was to help support folks to bring in parents against police violence. Survey on questions:

  1. Will you if we send you information engage in racial justice action related to mother’s day? (75% of people on call committed to taking action.)
  2. Do you have a tool that you could share with other parents who are engaging in racial justice? (can send it to info@showingupforracialjustice.org)

Wrap up & Next Steps

We really appreciate everyone being on this call. We’ll be in touch about future actions for families and parents, as we know that a lot of groups are focused on this across the country as we know that there will continue to be murders of Black and Brown people by the police so we need to show up with our whole selves and with our families. Feel free to e-mail us atinfo@showingupforracialjustice.org

If you have the capacity to go to DC to connect with Mothers for Justice United, or organize an action in your town. We look forward to seeing you in the streets, at the Daycare centers and everywhere where people are. Thank you.

Resource List:

Rising Race Conscious Children– new blog focused on bringing race into families.  A few great posts from the blog including Why I talk about race when I read to my Toddler and Supporting Kids to take Action

Parenting for Collective Liberation– includes great posts like – 5 Things to Know about Talking to Children about Race and some others

Info for the Millions Mothers March in Washington DC on May 9th:

Contact  rebefred14@gmail.com  502.802.6794


RSVP here: Million Moms March