By K.C., 3-5’s Parent
I wanted to thank Teacher Maddy and 3-5’s class chair Kim Fergus for putting together an area at school to highlight the importance of Black History and Black Lives. Some of you may have had the opportunity to attend the PAC lecture this month given by Jasen Frelot, Founder of Kids and Race, and a NE Seattle father. While I wasn’t able to attend last week’s lecture, I did attend a seminar given by Jasen in the fall.
As a white woman who was taught to view racial differences through a color blind lens both in school and at home, it took some research for me to understand the importance of phrases like Black Lives Matter and to be comfortable starting conversations with my children about white supremacy and historical and current racism in our country.
Jasen’s Changing the Narrative lecture jostled me out of feeling stuck on this topic. One phrase that I have revisited to keep me moving in a forward direction is: “It’s not my fault, but it is my responsibility”.
It is my responsibility to teach my children about our privilege as a white family with two parents at home, stable housing and transportation, and a dual income. It is my responsibility to teach my children how to stick up for those who are being bullied or treated unjustly. It is my responsibility to teach my children about our countries oppressive past, and how many of those injustices continue to exist today. It is my responsibility to step outside of our bubble and foster friendships with families from all walks of life.
A few steps that we have taken so far as a family are small and simple – hopefully preparing us to make a larger impact in the future.
As recommended by Kids and Race, we are making an effort to play at playgrounds with diverse populations. The recent cold weather and dark days have hindered this a bit, so I am hoping that as the days get warmer and longer, we will make more meaningful connections in our area playgrounds.
At home, we subscribed a monthly book bundle called WAM! (Windows and Mirrors) – which mails our family 2-3 diverse children’s books monthly. Each month, we receive a curated group of books that serve as “mirrors” to underrepresented children, allowing them to see themselves in stories thus becoming empowered, and “windows”, enabling children to see the world from a new perspective with hopes that it fosters understanding, empathy and acceptance for others who may appear different from them. These books are a wonderful addition to our household, and I look forward to each month’s package as much as my kids do. Hint: We blended two different reading levels into one subscription as we have a range of reading and comprehension levels in our household – all it took was an email to WAM, which is a small business run by two black women – a teacher and an entrepreneur.
In addition to reading to and with my kids, I am also trying to educate myself with texts by authors of color. I am currently reading Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, and have Ijeoma Oluo’s new book So You Want to Talk About Race waiting on my nightstand. Earlier this year, I read the incredible debut novel by Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give. There are many more books on my list, but truth be told, it will take me a while to get through these, so I will leave it at that for now.
I hope that you and your family are also finding ways to celebrate and learn about Black History and Black Lives this month, and and in the days, weeks, months and years to come.