It feels uncomfortable typing this blog – and I think that’s precisely what this moment in time is all about. All forms of media are covered in stories that make me sick to my stomach – quickly followed by stories that make us all feel good. People are sharing more than they ever have on topics that have NEEDED to be discussed for a long time. I will be the first to say sorry for never speaking up – until now. Enough is enough. The silence is deafening for the oppressed. I have said since Day 1 of the pandemic that we are living through a chapter in a history textbook (er, app? What do the kids use for school these days??) Little did I know, we would be living through what I hope is another page in a textbook – the story of how the men and women – of all ages, colors, and backgrounds – joined together to initiate a long overdue change. Here’s a blog on learning about white privilege, navigating race, and opening my eyes. I hope anyone that reads this blog can see the message of love and I pray that just one person can relate and join me, a privileged white woman, on this journey. It will take us all. Open the conversations, educate yourself and social circle, and most importantly – love.
I grew up in a rural community of (at the time) predominantly white people. In my elementary school, I can really only remember three or four students in my grade level that were black. The topic wasn’t covered much at school and I didn’t ask many questions about skin color at home – that I can remember at least. In the seventh grade, I switched school districts to Jefferson City Public Schools. On my first day at Lewis and Clark Middle School, I was in utter shock. It felt like almost half of my new classmates were black! (Note: I have no idea the statistics on the demographics of LCMS. Coming from a predominantly white area, it simply felt like half to me.)
I had never really had a black friend before. Would a black person even want to be friends with me? Would my parents let me go to a black person’s house? What would this new school be like?
The answer is yes and yes. The answer is – that school would be eye-opening. Some of my first friends outside of my softball teammates were black. I went to their houses after school and spent time with their families. We went to all of the normal middle school gatherings together – the movies, games, and even the roller rink. It was almost so not-a-thing that even looking back, I am stunned by it (and also super thankful it was never a “thing”). I am still friends with many of these middle school friends today! My principal, Dr. Baird, was a black man. I didn’t realize it then – but having a black man leading our school was crucial for me to push through any unconscious racial bias I had, even as a seventh-grader.
I would go on through high school (and then college) with many black friends, teachers, leaders, and teammates. I would develop relationships with people of color without thinking twice – and still do. But, I’m still a white person. More specifically, a white female. I would go through life painfully oblivious to the oppression my black friends and family face. I would scoff when someone spoke of white privilege – after all, nothing had been given to me simply for being white. White privilege? Not me. I had worked my way through college (paid for by athletic scholarships and myself) and started several businesses on my own (researched and funded on my own accord.) None of those things were given to me because of “white privilege.” I also assumed white privilege was simply a phrase indicating that I was a racist white person. I have black friends and family – I am not racist. Therefore, this whole white privilege thing doesn’t apply to me, right??? Wrong.
In the last several years, I’ve educated myself (many thanks to my younger sister, Madison) on what white privilege really is – and yes, it exists. I will never have to have a conversation with Knox about the systemic racism in order to protect him from doing NORMAL things – like running down the street. As a family, we will never have to consider what neighborhood or area we move into and our “acceptance” there. I don’t have to worry about being pulled over simply because I “fit the description” for a crime in the area. Until recently, there was only one color of Bandaid. I can easily find books to read with Knox with white characters – but never fret, friends, see below for how we as a business are handling this one! There are many other examples of white privilege I’ve come to learn and will continue learning. I urge you to do the same.
To be transparent, I am checking my privilege daily and learning as we navigate this world together. We (@thesouthernrosecomo) tagged some helpful resources on a post yesterday and I am working on finding more and educating myself more on this topic. To be a better parent, leader, friend, and ALLY. Will you join me?
Parents & Educators: We have several books and resources on the way to Rosebuds to help educate about skin color, kindness, differences, racism, and more. They are for all ages of children. We have always had books regarding kindness & acceptance, but I felt an urge to help this cause in a bigger way. Education is so crucial for all of us – especially children!! So, I did some research and found some amazing resources that I can’t wait to share with each of you!
One of my favorite resources has been The Conscious Kid. I am adamant about teaching Knox early on and continuing that conversation as he grows up. We WILL be the change through our kids.
If you want to know more about these resources when they become available, please subscribe to our Rosebuds e-mail list here: http://eepurl.com/gVkGUb (Note: If you already receive TSR e-mails, this is another e-mail list specific to baby/kids – with promises not to send more than one e-mail/week.)
Need a read for yourself? Skylark Bookshop (downtown Columbia) has some great reads in-stock now!!