Fighting my husband’s deportation: Reflections on being a white mother in a mixed-race, mixed-status family
I stumble down the driveway with our five-week-old infant in my arms, in the hushed quiet of dawn. My eyes are gritty from interrupted nights and early mornings. My baby’s eyes widen to take in the contrast of dark trees and sky. Already, the sky is sullen with forest fire smoke and the anticipated heat of another 100 degree day.
Soon, my husband will wake, and sit at our kitchen table to wrap his hands around his coffee cup and these few moments of silence before his day fills with both the brute sounds of roofing and those of our four and six-year-old sons.
He has pushed right through this heat wave. If he and his crew stop and rest at midday, it is only because the shingles will melt and distort from their weight, and not for the sake of their bodies.
An Embrace race community conversation
In this hour-long conversation, featured guests Sarah Hannah Gómez and Megan Dowd Lambert share expertise and experience on 1) how to guide children to and through picture books with positive racial representations; and 2) how to support children in resisting or reading against problematic, racist content. They also take questions and comments. Access the video, resources and slides above. An edited transcript to the whole conversation follows. The Q & A starts towards the end of the transcript, HERE. And at the very end find a resource filled addendum to the Q & A, our guests' short responses to questions we ran out of time to answer live. Enjoy!
EmbraceRace: Welcome to this month's community conversation. We're thrilled to introduce you two our two guests. After a brief intro they will present for about 20 minutes and then we'll take questions.
An EmbraceRace community conversation
Many parents want their children to embrace racial diversity and multiculturalism. Research shows that people who grow up in diverse neighborhoods and attend diverse schools express less racial prejudice and are more supportive of multiculturalism. However, neighborhood segregation means that many U.S. families live in racially homogenous neighborhoods and many children go to school mostly with same-race kids. In this session we discuss the importance of being color-conscious (rather than "not seeing color") and offer some ideas about how to foster inclusive attitudes in children - of all colors - who live and attend school in these homogenous environments.
In this hour-long conversation, first, Professor Vittrup presented what she’s learned and discussed the implications for raising kids. Next, EmbraceRace Co-founders, Andrew Grant-Thomas and Melissa Giraud, facilitated the Q & A with the community. Watch the video and find the tipsheet (linked above), read the transcript (below).
Wanting to Give the World to My Children (Or, How It Felt to Send My Black Son and Daughter Abroad This Summer)
When I was nervous about sending my oldest son, Rory, to preschool, I came across a quotation, attributed to writer, Elizabeth Stone, that captured a feeling I’d had since becoming a mother but hadn’t been able to articulate: “Making the decision to have a child — it is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
Her words acutely described the vulnerability I felt in loving another person so fiercely that I made bargains with the universe about his safety and well-being: “Throw anything at me. I can handle anything that comes my way — except losing this child or having something terrible happen to him.” This was the sort-of-prayer, or exercise in magical thinking, that I indulged in as a young mother determined to protect Rory and guide him safely and whole through his life and into adulthood.
Because I am African American raising children of color, and because of my professional experience in social justice, equity and inclusion work, many people believe that my children have an advanced, even adult-like understanding of these complex social issues.
No. My children understand these issues the way a seven and four-year-old would.
(Almost) the Only Brown People at the Reunion: Raising Kids of Color in a Predominantly White Extended Family
A few years ago, some of my children started noting that when we attend my father’s family reunions they are “the only brown people there,” and that’s almost true.
My dad is the eldest of thirteen siblings in a family of French Canadian heritage hailing from northern Vermont. Two of my thirty-seven surviving first-cousins have partial Puerto Rican heritage. Another cousin has a Latina partner, and they have a baby girl. And, two other kids in my children’s generation self-identify as multiracial with a quarter-Black heritage, though they are nearly always perceived as White due to their physical appearance.
One of the many plusses of teaching 3rd grade is that you get the opportunity to observe children figuring out who they are.
In a classroom full of black students, racial stereotypes definitely came into play. Some students readily assumed familiar roles and interests: D’Jenique, an outspoken girl who rejected any semblance of disrespect. She was quick to check anyone who mispronounced her name. Quintrell, a confident boy who adopted a tough persona and would not be caught at recess without a football.
It felt the familiar buzz of my phone in the pocket of my jeans as I walked with a friend back to my dormitory. A Snapchat? A GroupMe message? Maybe even a Facebook message? I fumbled for the slab of connectivity and glanced at the screen. Nothing. An email, I thought to myself, as I opened the phone with my thumbprint.
“You can’t be two races. You have to pick one: white or black.”
“Those are the only two options?”
Confident nods all around.
“What about me?”
Pride in Not Seeing Race = White Privilege
A Facebook post by mom Lydia Rosebush from Louisville, Kentucky went viral. In it, she brags about how her 5 year-old White son befriended a Black boy and does not see race. Here’s what she and those posting it as a sign of hope are missing: This is the epitome of White privilege and color-blind racism.
“….He said that he wanted his head shaved really short so he could look like his friend Reddy. He said he couldn’t wait to go to school on Monday with his hair like Reddy’s so that his teacher wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. He thought it would be so hilarious to confuse his teacher with the same haircut.
"Here’s a picture of Jax and Reddy from their Christmas program. I’m sure you all see the resemblance.
"If this isn’t proof that hate and prejudice is something that is taught I don’t know what is. The only difference Jax sees in the two of them is their hair.”
But an abundance of research shows that by 5 years old, the age of these two boys, kids do see race and already have racial bias and favor Whites.