I stand with you

I know my words will never be enough. I know I write from a place of white privilege. I know I can never even begin to understand the horrors and persecution white people have facilitated for centuries. For this I am deeply remorseful. 

However, I cannot stand silent. I will stand with you. I am forcing the issue of race to the forefront of my mind right now. I am prepared to read and further educate myself about racism and how it permeates every strata of society. I have donated to a fundraiser to honour George Floyd and I have signed a petition to force change. It will not be enough, I know this.  

A pledge I have made to myself is that I will do my upmost, as a mother, to educate my children on the issues surrounding race. As parents, we have the most crucial job. What we say, how we behave towards others and what we do shapes our children. If we can sow seeds today that grow unity, respect, kindness and love towards people of different races and cultures, we have hope for the future. It is our job to play a pivotal role in stamping out prejudice and to view all races on an equal platform. Our children's future should be one in which ethnic diversity is celebrated, enjoyed and above all, normal. 

Since moving to America, my children attend a school with other children from many races. In addition, visiting the city has opened our eyes to the wonderful diversity of New York and I feel so glad that my children are experiencing life in such a culturally rich place. 

Coupled with this, we've been learning about American history. This makes for some very painful and uncomfortable reading indeed, especially in the context of the ongoing persecution of black people. Why have we not learnt from such gross mistakes? However, it recently gave me great hope when my 8 year old son had to choose an inspirational American to study and write about. He chose Harriet Tubman. He was already familiar with Harriet's sacrifice and the outstanding contribution she made to secure the freedom of slaves. He is learning. To him, black lives really do matter, very much. 

With my four year old, we often read picture books detailing courageous people, notably women. Harriet adores that she shares the name of Harriet Tubman. We have talked about Rosa Parks and how she helped to change the sickeningly unfair rule that African Americans could not sit by Caucasians on the bus. We've also read about Ruby Bridges, the first African American child at her Louisiana school who helped to ensure kids of all colours could learn together. 

Thanks to the books we share, my daughter knows that Martin Luther King Jr. said "The time is right to do what is right." This resonates more than ever. If we do not do what is right, we will continue to make the same mistakes time and time again. We have an opportunity to inspire change, through our children. No longer must we naively turn away and 'hope' that our children will grow up against prejudice. Without explicit teaching and learning this will not happen. We must have the painful conversations, we must listen to the voices of the persecuted and insist that injustice and oppression are never acceptable. 

Finally, we must all be held accountable. We must all stand up for what is right. Call out racism when you see or hear it. Change your children's words if they make unwise choices. Be the new narrative by being informed, kind and by listening with respect. Use your voice to be a force for change and continue to strive for a better future. 



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