Parenting

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Make 2021 Live Up To Its Promise, Starting At Home

As we wrap up this year, let’s move towards 2021 with intention, action, and purpose.

2020: what a year it’s been. We saw the devastating effects of a pandemic that is disproportionately killing Black people. We witnessed the killing of George Floyd, which resulted in the largest protest movement in US history. Black people and allies hit the streets in masses over the summer to demand, again, that our lives be valued, that we not be killed simply for being Black. Many white people — especially white parents — were awakened for the first time. I started this column, Raising Anti-Racist Kids, to create a space where parents can make a change and infuse antiracist principles into the foundations of their homes and their lives for the long term. As we wrap up this year, let’s move towards 2021 with intention, action, and purpose.

Here are 5 resolutions to add to your list for a 2021 that builds on the progress we’ve made.

Don’t get complacent in the new administration.

I have to admit. It feels really great to have a mixed race Black and Indian woman as the Vice President-elect. It’s a step in the right direction for sure, but don’t get comfortable in thinking the work is done. Biden has the most diverse cabinet in history, which is a move in the right direction, but it’s not enough. I’m envisioning a world where diversity doesn’t get applauded, because it’ll just be the norm. When Obama was president, lots of people got complacent because they thought we were in a post-racial America. The truth is that the work continues and is even more critical now.

Get your kid’s school involved in Black Lives Matter At School’s Year of Purpose.

Black Lives Matter At School has an annual week of action coming up during the first week of February. That gives you plenty of time to reach out to your local PTA to include your school in the national week of programming and action. Starting this conversation is not always easy, but it takes one person to help others speak out.

In 2018, I suggested a social justice committee at my son’s school, but I was the only person making a move in this direction. That all changed after the national uprisings after George Floyd’s murder. This spring, the principal and I had a talk about what could be done differently to support teachers in addressing racism in the classroom and structurally at the school. And then this summer, enough fellow parents were motivated to make change, and they started a Racial Equity and Social Justice Committee. My partner, who is white, is on the Parent Association leadership team: he worked with others to ensure that the committee didn’t have all white leadership and that the work be led by Black parents and other parents most affected by racism. It’s critical that white parents use their privilege to demand change in schools.

Commit to real progress at work.

If you work at a company, focus on internal anti-Black policies. In order to truly know what these may be, listen to Black people about policies at work that marginalize them. This takes being in genuine relationships with your coworkers and avoiding positioning yourself as the savior. Black people are honestly really exhausted when it comes to racism. Using your voice intentionally and after checking in with those most affected to ensure that your company’s summer of activism becomes part of the company culture can be very powerful. Advocating for Black people to be hired — all the way from the board and the C suite, to giving opportunities to young Black people — is critical. You can also advocate for implicit bias and anti-racism trainings. It’s important for companies to mandate these trainings for their staff to ensure that company culture shifts meaningfully. If Black people are hired but the company culture is still one steeped in whiteness, it may be a place of trauma for us and we may not be set up for success.

Another plus side to taking your activism to work? The more you flex those muscles of engagement, the more it’ll come naturally to you in other areas of your life. Don’t forget that your kids are watching.

Give what you can to Black-led grassroots organizations in your community.

Many people have lost jobs and income because of the pandemic. Businesses and organizations are struggling to keep the lights on and pay their workers. It’s a really difficult time for so many. If you are one of the lucky ones that can afford to donate this year, consider donating to a Black-led grassroots organization doing racial justice work in your community. Even a small recurring donation can make a big difference to small organizations and businesses.

Support Black creators and Black-owned companies and purchase their products for your kids.

I was delighted to look through our bookshelf and our home to compile a list of our favorite gift items for kids. This gift guide includes art, toys and books all made by Black creators, artists and authors. It’s a great place to shop for new items to introduce to your kids in 2021. These ideas make great birthday presents, too!

2021 promises so much. It promises widespread distribution of a vaccine for the coronavirus. Our kids will hopefully return to school buildings. We can go back to seeing friends and having families over for any excuse under the sun. As the year closes and another one begins, it’s a chance to commit anew to dismantling racism in your homes, schools, playgrounds and backyard barbeques. White parents have an opportunity to keep good on the promises of the summer and seek to instill antiracism education at home. You don’t have to know all the answers. In fact, there’s incredible power in learning alongside your kid. This journey towards antiracism will always be an ongoing process. The goal is to commit over and over again, to keep showing up, keep having those difficult conversations with your kids, your partner, your family and your friends and keep making those steps towards a world where there is true equity for our kids.

Let 2021 be a year of hard learning and purposeful action as you follow Black leaders who have been doing the hard work. Start the year committing to being a voice on your school board, in your PTA, and with your childhood friends. Dismantling racism in the spaces you occupy starts with you.

Raising Anti-Racist Kids is a bi-weekly column written by Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs focused on education and actionable steps for parents who are committed to raising anti-racist children and cultivating homes rooted in liberation for Black people. To reach Tabitha, email hello@romper.com or follow her on Instagram.