Wednesday, August 5, 2009

White parents confronting white privilege

I just posted a compelling article on Anti-Racist Parent, written by Susan Raffo of White Noise, "a group of white parents with white children who have been meeting for two years to learn together and support each other in ending white supremacy."

So, white parents raising white children. We looked at books and blogs. We googled for magazine articles and newspaper features. We talked with our friends – white and of color – and kept coming against the same thing: there is hardly anything out there that directly talks about raising white kids to be anti-racist, to work against white privilege, to be a different flavor, an accountable and creative flavor, of white. There are resources about raising children to live in a multicultural world. There are resources about raising your children to respect difference.  There are books about nonviolent child-rearing. But really thinking about what kind of white your kid might be? It's not out there. And here's why: most of us white adults don't really understand what it is to be white ourselves. We sometimes have language about being Irish- or Italian-American, or about growing up on a farm, being Midwestern or from the mountains, but this whiteness thing? The ways in which being white affects our sense of who we are and the communities around us? We usually have no words.

My partner and I decided that if we're going to raise a white child we want to pay attention to how she becomes white and how she is white. It's the same thing as paying attention to the fact that she is a girl, that she likes to dance but isn't so into playing soccer, that she gets shy in front of lots of people she doesn't know. Each of these things is about her, and each is about the world around her. Read more...



ActsofFaithBlog said...

Ok I'm gonna have to go check this site out. I have to confess this sounds a bit ridiculous to me. This isn't utopia - it's the real world. I mean a few people examining their privilege is good but they think they're actually going to give something up?!

Who in their right mind and following the order of a dominant patriarchal society does that and not be cannibalized by others in their group for this "betrayal"? White supremacy is here to stay.

For the non-dominant group the key is to learn ways to advance their group as a whole. This just goes against law of the jungle. Very admirable and completely misguided.

kat said...

So, I wonder just how hard they really looked....That sounds more cynical than I would like....sorry.

There's a very well known preschool and kindergarten philosophy (well, well known in pedagogical circles, so maybe that's why these parents did see it) called the Anti-Bias Curriculum.

It was developed in the mid-80's in LA. The whole point of the anti-bias curriculum is to teach children to respect and love themselves without that turning to feelings of supremacy or predjudice.

It also uses frank, honest discussion to teach that there are differences between groups of people (racial, gender, etc), but that groups are not monolithic, and personal experience differs.

They clearly separate themselves from "multi-cultural" preschool curricula, which they believe focus too much on other countries, and refer to foreign traditions or celebrations as if they were the daily experience of particular ethnic (or religious or racial) groups in the US.

I'm not being terribly clear, I don't think, but the A.B.C. can be tailored to groups of children that are mostly white, or mixed, or mostly children of color. Tools and strategies are explained for each of these.

The trouble is, often when one googles the Anti-Bias Curriculum, one finds angry screeds from closed minded folks who call is "activist" or something (like that's a BAD thing....)

Hope any of this makes sense.

I'm really dismayed that you've received so much ridiculous feedback for posting on this article. It is very interesting and I wish more parents (and educators) were having this kind of discussion.

kat said...

I read the post on White Noise more carefully, and got some information from the author herself.

She has been greatly influenced by the curriculum I mentioned.....

Guess that's me doing what I do best: Sticking my foot in my mouth before I get all the information.

**feel like a bit of a s@*$head....


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