Lynn VanderWielen, PhD, MPH
Reflection for White Parents of Multiracial Kids
Many of us in the Samahra Community identify as White (including me!). Of course, White parents, like all categorical groups, are not a monolithic group - we embody varying intersectional identities, behaviors, biases, and parenting styles. Our commonality here is that we are all dedicated to supporting our multiracial children in supporting a healthy, positive, and celebrated identity development journey.
Consider this - over 80% of White parents think it is important to discuss race with their children, yet some studies show only 10% of us have in-depth discussions about race with our kids. I am deeply hoping that all of us reading and engaging with the Samahra Community are a part of that 10%, but I also know that many of us feel uncomfortable, unprepared, and ill-prepared for intentional and thoughtful conversations.
Why are so many White parents and caregivers avoiding conversations about race? First and foremost, evidence demonstrates that one’s willingness to discuss race is tied to our awareness of our own biases. As we work on ourselves to understand, acknowledge, and deconstruct our biases, we become more aware of our role in upholding and reinforcing racist attitudes and systems.
Let’s not conflate our relationships with practices to dismantle racist systems. It is well understood that having authentic and meaningful relationships with those with different lived experiences is related to increased empathy. But that doesn’t mean we are immune to racist thinking or having a role in upholding racist systems!
One of our recent blog posts shared an actionable approach to talking with our kids about engaging with people in power (specifically police officers). We received some incredibly naïve and racist comments about this article from parents of multiracial kids who failed to understand and accept that the article was sharing how the system itself is built upon racism (after all, policing originated from slave patrols - a good article about this can be found here.) Further, our Samahra team has interviewed over 100 multiracial adults, and we learned of specific examples of racist language and behavior that impacted identity development for multiracial young adults. Clearly, our multiracial families are not exempt from the need to understand and address ideas and behaviors that are rooted in racism.
So what can we do?
When it comes to supporting our multiracial kids, we need to do some meaningful, and often difficult, self-reflection. Not only can you begin and continue your journey in the Samahra app for parents of multiracial kids, but there are many resources that might work for you. Our team really likes Do the Work! An Antiracist Activity Book, by W. Kamau Bell and Kate Schatz and Raising Antiracist Children by Britt Hawthrone. We also recommend following Mixed In America, Dr. Jenn Noble and Raina LaGrand on Instagram as they all intentionally support multiracial families and encourage reflection. When you come across materials that elicit big emotions (anger, shame, grief, etc.), think about where these feelings are coming from and how they feel in your body. This is an important step in elevating your awareness and dismantling racist thinking and behaviors. It is important to understand that this is not work that you ‘check off a list’ but a journey. We are in this together and hope to see you in the Samahra app to learn, process, and respectfully challenge one another to do better.
Today’s article of inspiration can be found here (heads up this link will download the article to your device).
Article Citation: Perry, Sylvia P., Allison L. Skinner, and Jamie L. Abaied. "Bias awareness predicts color conscious racial socialization methods among White parents." Journal of Social Issues 75.4 (2019): 1035-1056.
Photo by Jeremy Vessey on Unsplash