White parents, talk to your white children about race and racism in this country.
Talk about it often. Over and over again.
Talk to them about the injustices the see in the world—and I guarantee they see them. Help them connect the dots.
It will be hard. Do it anyway.
Let them see you feel awkward.
Let them see you mad.
Let them see you cry.
Let them witness righteous anger.
Let them see that a heart broken by these murders—by violence held up by racist systems in our country—is a heart rightly oriented towards the love and care for their fellow humans, their fellow image-bearers.
It is ESSENTIAL work, and it is ours to do.
I shared a version of that text on Instagram today. I shared it because my job, right now, as a white person, is to do two things:
First, in whatever limited way I can, to amplify the voices of black people who choose to share insight into this raw, painful time. Frankly, those folks don’t owe white people a damn thing, and we should be grateful if they are inviting us into any conversation, any part of their experience, any part of their hurt and horror.
Second, to call fellow white people into the process of getting “our house” in order.
It is not the job of black people to do this work for us. It is not the job of black people to educate us on the effects of racism.
It is not the job of black people, who have been pushed to margins by white supremacy and the systems it feeds, the societal and cultural standards it sets, and the violence it perpetuates, to set right the understanding of those of us who benefit from how things work in this country.
It is one thing to ask how your black friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow humans are feeling. It is one thing to express your love and affection for these friends, to let them know you see them in this time.
But it is quite another to rely on them solely for perspective on this recurrent nightmare the people in this country have created.
Since this country began, white people have been telling black people that they are less-than—that they are The Other—with chains, with whips, with stolen labor, with stolen children, with rape, with murder, with laws, with policy, with who ended up in the White House. To know that history and then, when confronted with it rearing its ugly head yet again, to not start with you and your history and how you benefit from and even get to ignore the systems in our country that continue to press their knees into the neck of every black and brown person…it’s lazy. It’s hurtful. It’s cruelly passive.
We cannot—we will not—make black people be our Google or our reference desk. We have to muster up some intellectual and emotional curiosity and start doing the work.
It will be hard. We will mess up. But it is important work. It is work that is long, tragically, and abhorrently overdue.
And it is ours.