by Anti-Racist Parent columnist Dawn Friedman
I was looking at the archives of the gratuitous cute kid pics, (which really are pretty darn cute) and I was wondering where are the cute kids from white families? From looking at the gratuitous cute kid tag, you’d think the prerequisite of being anti-racist is having a non-white family member. Every single group of kids comes from a family of color (by which I mean a family that has at least one member of color).
I know that there are white parents of white kids who read this blog and I’d like to hear from you. What’s stopping white parents of white kids from publicly claiming their anti-racism here?
Now I understand that there are lots of reasons people don’t choose to share pics of their kids on the internet – the gratuitous cute kids pics are a pretty small sample of this blog’s audience. But I’m still curious – where are all the white kids who don’t have family members of color?
I ask myself this, too. Would I have joined this blog if Madison hadn’t become a part of our family through transracial adoption? I considered myself an anti-racist parent before but would I have felt comfortable claiming that label on an anti-racist blog? And if not, what would have stopped me? Thinking on this brought me to this quote, which (to be perfectly honest because there’s no point in having a deep discussion about racism if we’re not going to be honest) echoes my feelings more than I like to admit:
A final fear has probably always haunted white people but has become more powerful since the society has formally rejected overt racism: The fear of being seen, and seen-through, by non-white people. Virtually every white person I know, including white people fighting for racial justice and including myself, carries some level of racism in our minds and hearts and bodies. In our heads, we can pretend to eliminate it, but most of us know it is there. And because we are all supposed to be appropriately anti-racist, we carry that lingering racism with a new kind of fear: What if non-white people look at us and can see it? What if they can see through us? What if they can look past our anti-racist vocabulary and sense that we still don’t really know how to treat them as equals? What if they know about us what we don’t dare know about ourselves? What if they can see what we can’t even voice?
from The Fears of White People by Robert Jensen
I want to open this to discussion: How can we white parents effectively join the anti-racism movement? How can we sensitively work our activism? What are our barriers and how can we overcome them? Is Kil Ja Kim correct when she writes thatThe White Anti-Racist is an Oxymoron?
To me, our fears feel like that classic elephant in the room so let’s talk about it. I’m really interested in what you all have to say.
Dawn Friedman is a writer and mother to two children. Her articles have appeared in Salon.com, Yoga Journal, Brain Child and the Greater Good and she is the op-ed editor at Literary Mama. She is also the founder of OpenAdoptionSupport.com and since the adoption of her daughter in 2004 has become passionate about the need for adoption reform. She blogs at this woman’s work.