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  • Writer's pictureLynn VanderWielen, PhD, MPH

Find Your Community!! Connection, Camaraderie, and Accountability

Updated: Feb 16

When it comes to supporting our multiracial kids, we must work intentionally to better understand ourselves and how we came to know who we are. We need to think about how our identities have come to be, be cognizant and accepting of the intentional and consequential White privilege embedded in our systems, and identify and reflect on our own biases (where did we learn these thoughts, how they show up in our actions and our lives, how are we unlearning our racist, colorist, sexist, etc. views, how are biases being taught to our kids?).

There is little formal research specific to parents raising multiracial kids, but there is a wealth of research within the educational field, especially about White educators who teach in classrooms filled with Students of Color. Some of this work is directly translatable to our families - especially for us White parents raising multiracial kids. One of the most important findings from this research is the need to create space for authentic and intentional community.

You are not alone on your journey. The article shares “It is tempting to try and develop an anti-racist, intersectional racial identity in isolation. Including others on one’s journey invites critique, and the potential for hurt feelings and mistakes along the way is likely.” However, we need to seek connection and camaraderie with other parents of multiracial kids to develop friendships and space for open, honest, and vulnerable conversations. We are going to get things wrong and together we can refocus and relearn. Together we can process our experiences, our questions, and our confusions with others who are supportive and critically minded. The Samahra Community offers a safe space for connecting with other community members where we can grapple with life's challenges and celebrate our strengths. Conversations have ranged from talking to our kids about police interactions, to living in rural communities where we feel isolated and disconnected, to starting conversations with our youngsters about who they are and how they see themselves.

In addition to creating authentic and supportive relationships with other parents of multiracial kids for learning and camaraderie, these communities can serve for creating accountability. We need to listen, uninterrupted, to the experiences of others - especially those who have different lived-experiences than we do. We also need to be willing to be vulnerable in sharing and own our mistakes and errors. When our words offend others, we need to take ownership. Apologies should not place the onus on others, not “I am sorry that you were offended” but rather “I am sorry that my words were offensive and I didn’t listen and hear you”. This not only goes for our adult relationships and communities, but when it comes to supporting our kids.

The research article highlights the need to balance our own personal reflection and our own actions. Learning not only expands our own understanding, but will likely challenge our truths. We need to identify how our understanding is going to translate into conversations with our kids and how we can create space for discussion where they feel heard and understood. Our lived experiences are going to be different than theirs, not only because of our identities, but because of the place and time of our childhoods and adolescence. Embrace these differences and lean into understanding how your child is experiencing the world.

Article Link.

Citation: Utt, Jamie, and Shelly Tochluk. "White teacher, know thyself: Improving anti-racist praxis through racial identity development." Urban Education 55.1 (2020): 125-152.

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

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