My kids see color.
They are learning about the real history of this stolen land and the way innocent BBIA* children are treated as guilty adults while law breaking white peers are given a free pass and our responsibility to at minimum bear witness to injustice, to document it if possible, and to see if there is an effective way to intervene. I try to explain how white privilege blinds us and how challenging but vitally important it is to face and remedy our own ignorance without succumbing to denial or excessive guilt.
Just as important, we place equal emphasis on the wide variety of BBIA daily life experiences that are not centered on race: innovation, gentleness, wisdom, humor, familial ties, artistry, expressing a full range of emotions, facing universal challenges, coming of age. They see normalcy in color because of input from friends and classmates, musicians and actors, books and movies.
I haven’t always gone at allyship effectively, deeply, or frequently enough. Right now there are undoubtedly awkward gaps in my own knowledge and firmly held convictions I’ll look back and cringe at later. But I feel waiting to achieve ally perfection before addressing race with kids would be squandering this irretrievable window of time I have to positively impact their world view. And if course watching me try imperfectly and revise and do better is its own important learning experience for them.
All kids see color whether we want them to or not. White parents have a responsibility to unpack it with them (the way BBIA parents generally do) so they don’t just inhale the dominant cultural narrative.
* BBIA stands for Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Asian and was created as a preferred alternative to POC by Brandi Waller-Pace of Decolonizing the Music Room.