It’s been a little over a year since Ahmaud Arbery was murdered. The horrific video that surfaced at that time left me feeling convicted to stand up against racism.
Not long after that, George Floyd’s murder was caught on video and shared with the world. I quickly became aware of how many countless other BIPOC have been unjustly killed for senseless reasons, when it could have been avoided. The injustices and systematic racism that minorities in our country face became clearer and clearer to me.
I felt like I needed to use my platform to stand up and speak out against these injustices. I’ve done a few bold things like posting this article on how to raise anti-racist kids. A group where I live has been protesting monthly and sometimes weekly and I’ve participated as often as I can.
While those things may be bold, I haven’t done enough.
I still have been ashamed or scared to speak up when I should. I also allow my fears of the ramification of protesting to scare me away from committing to being there every time.
So much has happened in our country over the past year. Most recently the ruthless killing of another Black man who didn’t deserve to die, Daunte Wright.
Relationships have been torn apart as a result, because let’s face it, our country is split on the issue of racism. Nevertheless, I think it’s important for me to continue speaking out and sharing what I’m learning. I have to continue to face the discomfort that comes with this type of work and strive to do better.
So here are a few things that I’ve learned about systemic racism in our country over the past year. The racism that many have to deal with on a daily basis. I’m going to also include a few ways you can be anti-racist, especially if you’re a mom.
What I’ve Learned About Systemic Racism
Black, Indigenous, and People of Color who are authors are far too underrepresented in our literature.
I have done a few book studies recently, including Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum. Tatum points this out in her book, and until I read it I had never even thought about how few BIPOC authors I actually knew of.
Can you think of any or was it just me? That doesn’t mean they aren’t out there. I think it’s just that we don’t know about them. Have you ever stopped to think about why that is?
Minorities are often depicted in stereotypical ways in media.
Think about how many movies and shows you’ve seen with BIPOC as the main characters. How are they depicted? Is it in a negative way?
Since I’ve been more aware of my own biases it’s easier than it ever was for me before to see these things. The more I’ve explored these feelings and allowed myself to feel the discomfort that comes up, the more comfortable I become in standing up and speaking out against them.
We need to be careful of what we say.
For example, someone recently posted this article in an online group that I’m in. Author Elizabeth Sherman points out that saying things like “my tribe” is offensive to American Indians.
“A tribe isn’t your squad of friends, and deeming it as such erases the battles these actual tribal communities fought to be federally recognized.”
Once you start to become more aware of terms that can have racial undertones, like chief and spirit animal, you will start noticing them daily.
I challenge you to stop yourself. Find another word that says the same thing. If you forget, it’s ok. It takes time to change a habit, but don’t continue doing it without acknowledging that it’s wrong. Apologize if you said it in front of someone else and point out that you shouldn’t have said it.
Meet people where they are.
Another way that you can be more actively anti-racist is to meet people with different opinions and beliefs than you where they are. Just because you disagree with someone, doesn’t mean you should come at them on your soapbox. Making someone feel guilty about why they’re wrong won’t get you far.
All that will likely do is make them even more defensive and dig their heels into what they’ve already said or thought. Instead, try to understand where the inappropriate behavior or opinion is coming from. Rather than arguing with them, ask why they think that way and become genuinely interested in their answer.
You have to understand that there are layers upon layers upon layers of generational biases that these behaviors and words are coming from. Engaging in arguments doesn’t get you very far. But understanding from a place of love and compassion will get you much further.
It’s like that saying goes, you kill far more bees with honey. I am well aware that my beliefs are not the same as everyone in our country and that’s OK. I believe God actually made us all different for a reason. He didn’t want us to all be the same.
Listen to Black voices.
These are a few things that I’ve noticed over the past year as I’ve set out on this journey to being anti-racist. I know that this will always be a work in progress for me and I have so much more to learn.
Resources To Promote Diversity And Antiracism
As promised, here are some resources that I’ve found helpful while exploring my role in helping to fight racial injustice and systematic racism.
First, these children’s books all include BIPOC as the main characters. I recommend ordering some of these for your family or checking them out from your local library.
The more we can support these authors and show the publishing companies that they are needed, the more likely they are to get published. Not only should Black children see themselves in books, I also think it’s important for White children to see BIPOC as characters in the books that they read.
10 Children’s Books With Diverse Characters
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The Hula-Hoopin Queen by Thelma-Lynn Godin
What If by Samantha Berger illustrated by Mike Curato
Pepper Zhang by Jerry Zhang
Honeysmoke by Monique Fields
Skin Like Mine by Latashia M. Perry
Listening To My Heart by Gabi Garcia
I’m Mixed by Maggie Williams
Antiracist Baby by Ibram X. Kendi
From The Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
The ABCs of Black History by Rio Cortez
5 Black-Owned Bookstores To Support
Medu Bookstore in Atlanta, Georgia
Medu Bookstore has been operational in the Atlanta area for more than twenty years and specializes in culturally significant and often hard to find books. They have a list of special events on their calendar that includes lectures by Black authors and storytelling children’s books.
Good Books in Atlanta, Georgia
Good books was founded by a mother-daughter duo who want to show their love to their community and encourage a love for reading. They are based out of Atlanta, Georgia but are currently 100% online. They ship to all 50 states in the U.S.
Cultured Books in St. Petersburg, FL
Cultured Books is a pop-up children’s bookstore, with a mission to first foster a love of self by showing positive images and sharing great stories about people of color. To show children our stories don’t begin with struggle and second, to broaden world views. They host story times, book clubs, and even community events.
The Listening Tree in Decatur, Georgia
The Listening Tree is a children’s bookstore and education center who’s mission is to perpetuate a love of literacy and learning in the global community. The have a Young Entrepreneurs Program committed to bringing economic justice through proper education in Finances, Self Interest and Business Start-up.
All Things Inspiration Giftique in Mableton, Georgia
All Things Inspiration Giftique is a Christian bookstore that sells a carefully curated selection of Bibles, Christian Literature, Fiction, and Nonfiction titles, African American Literature, and more.
Adult Books About How To Be Antiracist
I think learning more about your own biases is the best place you can start if you want to be anti-racist. There is so much more to it, but you have to start somewhere. If you don’t face your racist beliefs you will never be able to make the changes that are necessary. There are many different books out there to help you on this journey. These are only a few that I have begun reading. If you have more to add to this list, I’d love for you to share them in the comments.
1. How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.
Last year I listened to a live panel that Ibram did on YouTube with the Prince George’s Memorial Library about his book How To Be An Antiracist. I learned more about systemic racism and how to go about fighting it in that hour than I have anywhere else. He is very easy to relate to, kind, compassionate, and will keep you wanting to read more.
2. Be The Bridge by Natasha Morrison
I referenced this book previously when talking about how I had never really considered the fact that we don’t often hear about Black authors. Since I was a part of this book study, it has become clear to me how little we celebrate BIPOC’s success.
If you truly believe that all people are created equal, why wouldn’t there be just as many success stories about Black people who have written books, movies, or plays than White? Maybe it’s because I haven’t been looking for them. Or maybe it’s because
4. Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together In The Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum
5. White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
6. This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell and Illustrated by Aurelia Durand
7. Black and White: Dismantling Racism One Friendship at a Time by Teesha Hadra and John Hambrick
8. Caste: the Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
This book is not necessarily about being anti-racist, but it’s about musical artist and actor Common’s journey to understanding love and how it can help build communities.
10. The Color of Compromise by Jamar Tisby
There is still so much work to be done in eliminating systemic racism, and these resources are not exhaustive. But I hope they at least give you a starting point about how to be an antiracist mom.
I’d love for you to add your own resources to this list by commenting below!