A is for Anti-Racism
by guest blogger Amy Dudley
This post is part of a week-long series highlighting supporters of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), both in their parenting of race-conscious children and their activist work for racial justice. SURJ is a national network of groups and individuals organizing White people for racial justice. For more resources and information check out SURJ’s website.
As Monica Simpson wrote recently in her article Considering Motherhood and Murdered Black Children, “To be a mother is to worry about your child’s future and their safety…But to be a Black woman in the United States it is also to worry if your child will make it home from school, from work, from the store or from a friend’s house without being killed.”
This reality is not new for African Americans, as Ella Baker so poignantly reminds us. But for many White people in the US, we are still waking up to this nightmare. As with the civil rights movement before, it is the resistance led by People of Color that exposing this extreme and pervasive violence and sending a wake up call into White America.
As a White mother of two young White children, a four-year-old son and six-year-old daughter, part of raising my family up well is supporting them as White people on the side of racial justice. Recently, I had the opportunity to find my way through a conversation with my children about White supremacy and the fears that I believe can keep some White people on the wrong side of history.
I have been reading the amazing book Rad American Women A – Z by Kate Schatz with my children. It is beautiful, and super intentional about telling stories of movement leaders, athletes, musicians, pioneers in everything from science to gender identity over the last decades, including many women of color and queer women, in an accessible way that is not watered down. Each letter turns the spotlight on a hero.
A is for Angela Davis. Her story begins in Birmingham, Alabama in a neighborhood called “Dynamite Hill” so called because of frequent bombings of African American homes by the KKK.
I pause to ask my children if they have heard of the Ku Klux Klan, simultaneously knowing this is an important part of understanding this story, wondering what in the world I will say to broach this ugly part of history with my sweet children, and marveling that I am about to weave this somehow into an uplifting bedtime story.
I take a breath and remind myself that we tell our children these stories so they are more fully connected to our collective humanity, and can recognize unfairness and feel empowered to act for justice.
As my four-year-old son plays legos nearby, my six-year-old daughter, who I can always count on to dig deeper, pushes on and asks me, “Why were they bombed?”
“Some White people are afraid that when people of color are treated fairly, and their rights are respected, that will mean less for White people. And so they tried to stop Black people organizing for their rights,” I tell her.
I pause while I wonder if she gets what I am saying, and whether I’m sharing the best, most important information for her to take away…and then I ask, “Do you think it worked? Did people give up?”
“No.” She says. She knows by now that no is always the answer to questions about giving up.
“That’s right,” I say. “Even though people died and were afraid, they keep fighting for justice, to make the world more fair. Black people led the way, and some people with White skin also helped because they cared about justice too and knew that our whole world is better when it is more fair for everyone.”
I want my White children to understand that they too need to stand up for fairness and racial justice. That they can be brave.
I was intentional in talking about fear as the prime motivator of hate when I introduced my children to White supremacy in Angela Davis’s story. White supremacy certainly is rooted in colonialism and capitalism and systems of oppression, and one day, probably sooner than not, we will talk about that too.
But as I look in my children’s faces and think about what it takes to move towards action for racial justice as White people, I am thinking as a parent about individual choices we make towards silence, or towards resistance.
As White people, I want us to find the courage to choose connection over isolation, humility over denial, solidarity over competition. Justice and healing calls us to face the pain of White supremacy, to open ourselves up to more self-aware and accountable challenges to our own undeserved and unearned White skin privileges, and to move past denial and guilt, and into action.
When we fight to end White supremacy, we are fighting for a world where we are all free! Let’s don’t be afraid of this new world, but be transformed by a deeper connection to our collective humanity and a fighting chance for all our families. Let’s get free together!
Amy Dudley loves being a mama to her two little ones as they explore the wonders of the world around them, and is constantly challenged and amazed by their passion, courage, and compassion. She hopes to bring the same traits to her work with Creating Democracy, a new movement building project that she and her partner in life and organizing, Chris Borte, are seeding. Amy grew up in the mountains of South West Virginia and organized with rural communities in Oregon through the Rural Organizing Project. Any is also a supporter of Showing Up for Racial Justice.
A version of this article was originally posted on Creating Democracy.