I have been doing some deep soul work over the last year and a half.
It all started when we filled out a sheet of what type of children we would accept through foster care. It originally felt like I should just go down and check every box because that is what Jesus would do right? I mean I can and will love every kid that comes into my home but, the more I got to think about it, I had some serious work I had to do both in my home and on my heart.
I lived in a predominately white community, I watched mostly white sitcoms, I hung out at place where it is mainly white people, I didn’t worry when a cop pulls me over nor did I understand how to educate someone who had that worry. The only culture I was getting was the Hip- Hop music I listened to, but even then, I couldn’t feel it like it was meant to be felt because I just didn’t (and still don’t) understand. I found myself in a spot which was over powered by my white privilege and I honestly never knew it before I suddenly did.
Now, I am not saying that if this is you that you are intentionally racist, by no means am I saying that. But, I am saying that there are certain things that I have found that have caused me to be “unintentionally” racist just by the way I was raised. That even makes me cringe to admit out loud. And I hope it does you as well because if the conversation doesn’t push you out of your comfort zone, you aren’t growing. I have fantastic parents who I love so much, but what I am learning is that growing up with white privilege in America causes you to be uneducated about the advantages you have.
Here is the thing friends, intentions don’t really matter all that much. If you do something wrong, no matter what your intentions are, you should still apologize and try not to do it again, right? My motto in life is “when you know better, you do better”. And thats what I have been trying to do… better, for me, for my family, for my community.
If you’re sitting here and thinking, “Well, this ain’t me”, I promise it probably its because I was would have said the same thing before I started educating myself. Listen, I am by no means the best representation of perfect on this topic, but I do believe that it needs to be talked about more. There is so much work to be done and we can always better ourselves, always. I started showing up on social media and educating myself through that platform. Here are some good places to start :No White Saviors, #FosterCare, Rachel Cargle, The Conscious Kid, Jackie Hill Perry, Read Like A Rockstar
Because of the education I got from just listening to these accounts, I decided that I needed to I start teaching this information to my kids, in hopes that they can help change to story our our nation. This seemed like a daunting task because our country, whew, but I knew I had to start somewhere.
I recently started looking through my kids books and I noticed that even in our library, my favorite spot in the house, there was little to no culture or different ethnicity. So, I went on a mission and started diversifying my kids bookshelf so that there was representation in our family’s library. I feel like is important to not just see people of different colors being celebrated, but I want a world where people feel safe to express who they truly are. Being Foster parents, I want every kid that does come through our home to see themselves in a book and feel the empowerment that comes with that. By diversifying the books in your home, you are giving your kids the chance to learn about truths they don’t live, while teaching them empathy, compassion, understanding, and ultimately the need for change in our society.
Here are 10 books to add to your kids library immediately:
“What we tell ourselves matters! This is just as true for kids as it is for adults. Help your child tap into their inner strength and find the encouragement they need to navigate their daily environments. Mindful affirmations can help your child tune out the streams of messages they get about how they should be in the world. I can choose kindness. I can practice peace. I can share my gifts with the world.”
“There is no one else quite like Alex. With his special laugh, his grizzly hugs, and his own interesting thoughts, Alex is one of a kind. Presenting similarities and differences Alex has with others, Marvelous Me, by Lisa Bullard, will encourage children to embrace the things that make them unique. Playful illustrations and fun activities make this book a great addition to home and classroom libraries.”
“Caldecott Honor winner Rachel Isadora’s gorgeous collages breathe new life into this classic tale, capturing Rapunzel’s striking beauty and the lush African setting, a new home for this story, with wonderful details such as Rapunzel’s long dreadlocks and the prince’s noble steed, a zebra. Readers will delight in the vibrant illustrations, thrill at the appearances of the frightening sorceress, and chime in with the familiar line “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair?” as they follow this well-loved tale.”
4. Jabari Jumps
“Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. “Looks easy,” says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for.”
“It’s up to Daddy to give his daughter an extra-special hair style in this ode to self-confidence and the love between fathers and daughters, from Academy-Award winning director and former NFL wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry and New York Times bestselling illustrator Vashti Harrison. Zuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her — and her hair — happy. Tender and empowering, Hair Love is an ode to loving your natural hair — and a celebration of daddies and daughters everywhere.”
“From the beloved bestselling creator of The Dot and our own Happy Dreamer comes an inspiring story about the transformative and profound power of words. A New York Times Bestseller Named an Outstanding Literary Work for Children by the NAACP. Some people collect stamps. Some people collect coins. Some people collect art. And Jerome? Jerome collected words . . .In this extraordinary new tale from Peter H. Reynolds, Jerome discovers the magic of the words all around him — short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multisyllable words that sound like little songs. Words that connect, transform, and empower. From the creator of The Dot, I Am Human, and Happy Dreamer comes a celebration of finding your own words — and the impact you can have when you share them with the world.”
“A New York Times bestseller and Goodreads Choice Awards picture book winner! This is a gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another—from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo. This is the perfect gift for mothers and daughters, baby showers, and graduation. We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.”
“[an] exuberant picture-book ode to the fun of fashion.” —Shelf Awareness
This little Mary has STYLE! In this fun take on Mother Goose, fashion-forward Mary helps some of childhood’s most beloved characters go glam. From the kid who lives in a shoe (and dons some fab footwear, too) to Jack, who breaks his crown but gets a great new one, Mary’s school friends look fantastic in their finery. But are they now too well dressed for recess? Not to worry—Mary always shows her flair for what to wear!”
“From the creator of the New York Times bestseller The Word Collector comes an empowering story about finding your voice, and using it to make the world a better place. A New York Times Bestseller. The world needs your voice. If you have a brilliant idea… say something! If you see an injustice… say something! In this empowering new picture book, beloved author Peter H. Reynolds explores the many ways that a single voice can make a difference. Each of us, each and every day, have the chance to say something: with our actions, our words, and our voices. Perfect for kid activists everywhere, this timely story reminds readers of the undeniable importance and power of their voice. There are so many ways to tell the world who you are… what you are thinking… and what you believe. And how you’ll make it better. The time is now: SAY SOMETHING!”
“With the ease and simplicity of a nursery rhyme, this lively story delivers an important message of social acceptance to young readers. Themes associated with child development and social harmony, such as friendship, acceptance, self-esteem, and diversity are promoted in simple and straightforward prose. Vivid illustrations of children’s activities for all cultures, such as swimming in the ocean, hugging, catching butterflies, and eating birthday cake are also provided. This delightful picture book offers a wonderful venue through which parents and teachers can discuss important social concepts with their children.”
There are so many good books out there, so these are just a great place to start. Make this an intentional topic in your home because whether intentional or not, racism is taught, so let’s all do our part to turn this narrative around in every way possible.
Always move forward, friends.