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100 Small Conversations

June 9, 2020


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Hello friends, – if you’re like me, your heart is heavy. We are in the middle of a global pandemic, school is ending without fervor, and we are amidst a call for national healing regarding racism. As a white psychologist and mother, I am not an expert on anti-racism (there are links below to black authors and educators who are experts); but what I will offer you is my experience. With humility
 

I still remember some of my friends and family members rolling their eyes when I bought my 18-month-old daughter (now 15) a black baby doll. Her name was Rosie and she was so loved. It offered the opportunity to engage in a lot of uncomfortable conversations with people as Rosie was carted around (or when we bought black barbies or I bought books about diversity for our home). Here were some of the questions/comments we (my daughter and I) remember:
 

“Why would you get her a black doll when she’s white?”

“She’s not going to have a black baby when she’s older, so why now?”

“What’s the point in this?” 

I tried hard as my kids were growing up to be intentional about the type of media and books they were exposed to as well as how topics around diversity & equity were covered at school. As we were brainstorming this weekend, here are just a few books they remember and loved (a more thorough link to books on racism and inclusivity are included below):
 

The Snowy Day. Author: Keats

Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad. Author: Levine

It’s OK to be Different. Author: Parr

He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands. Author: Nelson

A People’s History of the United States. Author: Zinn

Fast forward to preschool and my son confronting a peer at the sand table when he had two boy play figures getting married. The example here is not of racial diversity, but rights for the LGBTQ+ community.

Peer: Jack, boys can’t marry each other.

Jack: Yes they can. 

Peer: Boys marry girls, not other boys.

Jack: (Louder, frustrated) That’s not true. 

Peer: It is true. Boys and girls get married. You’re wrong Jack!!

Jack: (big voice) Boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls;

and all of them can have babies and families….
 

And then, last night at the dinner table, as we discussed race, protests and our nation’s pain for (I’m not even sure how many) nights in a row….my daughter looks at me and says, “Mom, don’t you think that a person who’s black maybe acts differently from the moment he or she gets pulled over or talked to by a cop because they’re scared?” Tears. Genuine tears from me – I was prouder of her at that moment than any other academic lesson she could have mastered. She’s understanding a larger picture. 

 

I’ve always believed in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s curriculum, Starting Small. 
 

It encourages all of us to have many conversations about race and inclusivity from the earliest part of our children’s lives. White people do not do this to the same extent Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) do while children are growing up. 
 

It’s my belief, as a psychologist, that any conversation worth having is worth having 100 times. Race and inclusivity is a great example.
 

I want to reiterate, as a white mom and psychologist, I do not proclaim to be an expert on anti-racism. I continue to try to learn and grow every day. But I do feel that it’s obligated to us as parents to have these very difficult conversations with our children on a regular basis from the time they are small. And to offer allyship to our friends, colleagues and community members who are BIPOC. 

On another note, I would love it if you joined me for an upcoming focus group on Parenting and Discipline. We will meet for one hour on June 17th at 7 pm. It’s free and an opportunity to inform me about your biggest parenting struggles so that I can better serve you in our blog and in upcoming parenting courses that I offer.
 

Parenting with Intention Focus Group.

With great humility and compassion,

Dr. Amy

Resources:
 

New York Times columnist Jessica Grose put together the following books about anti-racism and protest:

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/parenting/kids-books-racism-protest.html

Amazing Authors and Educators on anti-racism:

Rachel Cargle – https://www.rachelcargle.com/

Southern Poverty Law Center – https://www.splcenter.org/

Teaching Tolerance – https://www.tolerance.org/

On Instagram: @RaiseGoodKids, @kidsrcapable, @ohhappydani

  1. kim davis says:

    Dr. Amy…great article. You are so thoughtful with your children. It would be good if more folks were like that. another great book we just read is by Austin Channing Brown, entitled I’m Still Here. Powerful and easy read that will make you feel as if you are just learning such important information that was right in front of you all the time. Highly recommend. thank you for this article and references. Teaching Tolerance from Southern Poverty Law Center is a great resource for educators and for parents too.

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