What does it looks like to intentionally raise children with the knowledge and understanding of systemic inequities and the tools to create an equitable society rather than accept the status quo? As a professor of psychology who studies racial identity development and systems of oppression, I’m happy to say there’s a growing body of research that can guide us along the way. (For more, check out my website).
Make the decision and stay the course. Ignore those people who say talking about inequities is divisive. In fact, NOT talking about them is a surefire way to keep them in place. Resist the urge to completely shield your children from the tough realities. Research suggests a healthy awareness of systems of oppression can be beneficial, rather than harmful, as kids learn to navigate the world. Seek out knowledge for yourself about how equity (the state where we can no longer use social identities to predict of outcomes) is different than diversity (acknowledging and maybe valuing differences) and inclusion (creating a sense of belonging).
Developing an equity mindset takes time. It’s like building a muscle. One trip to the gym doesn’t make us ripped. So why would we expect to be good at talking to kids about equity if it’s not something we have practiced? Even when we hold marginalized identities and have lived experiences of inequity, it doesn’t mean we are automatically good at explaining or teaching about equity. Repetition is key. Research suggests the change can take a generation (about 25 years), so be in it for the long haul.
Find your people. It’s easy to shy away from hard work (re: gym analogy). Hard work and discomfort is easier to endure when you are in community. Find people you can be honest with, who aren’t scared to be honest with you. Giving and receiving feedback is a gift, so seek out people you want to grow with.