Making Space for Little Uprisings
by Tanya Nixon-Silberg, from EmbraceRace's 2023 Reflections on Racial Learning
Tanya Nixon-Silberg holding megaphone to her child M.E. at a protest, photo by Tess Scheflan
I have made it my mission to spark and witness “little uprisings” everyday. Over years of practice with kids, I have noticed increased self-confidence among the youth I interact with. They are (and really always have been) about challenging the status quo we adults put into place. They are proud of who they are, and they light up when they are presented with cultural manifestations and presentations that align with their own sense of self. At times, they have even taken to questioning why I am at the center and convening our gatherings.
This pushback is significant for our Black and brown youth, who are often told to be quiet and to accept passively whatever someone in a position of authority dictates to them. Folks, let’s be real: progressive, egalitarian spaces of pedagogy are usually reserved for my community’s wealthier, whiter peers. As a parent and educator, I have to check my childism often and vociferously. I constantly ask myself: if I am all about kids questioning authority, do I make room for my own child to question mine? I have been buoyed by witnessing more children questioning the structures and norms put in place by adults and exercising their own agency, and look forward to all of us involved in similar work sitting with these developments, divesting ourselves of reactionary impulses to nip them in the bud, and incorporating their import into our work moving forward.
I am one of more and more Black and brown parents looking at our legacy of parenting practices and decolonizing the way we make room for our children. Obedience and compliance have been tactics used by BIPOC folk to keep our kids safe from white folks. Shifting takes time and commitment and an eye on the goal.
I am one of more and more Black and brown parents looking at our legacy of parenting practices and decolonizing the way we make room for our children. Obedience and compliance have been tactics used by BIPOC folk to keep our kids safe from white folks. Shifting takes time and commitment and an eye on the goal. We were never meant to parent in isolation, and so I look to the community for help. Workshops, prompts and social media posts from intentional parenting communities like Parenting Decolonized, Latinx Parenting and Untigering have helped tremendously. What does it look like for kids to spark little uprisings everyday? To some, it might feel like chaos. To the folks truly with our eyes, hearts and minds on freedom? Little uprisings everyday looks like liberation in real time.
This article comes from the introduction of Inaugural EmbraceRace Reflections on Children's Racial Learning. Download all the reflections from leaders attending to children's racial learning in parent practice, education, healthcare, children's media and social science research.