I recommend social-justice parenting to keep kids out of a privileged 'bubble of innocence' and help others raise anti-racist children

·4 min read
Dr. Traci Baxley
Traci Baxley. Courtesy of Traci Baxley

The following is an adapted excerpt from Traci Baxley's book "Social Justice Parenting: How to Raise Compassionate, Anti-Racist, Justice-Minded Kids in an Unjust World."

How to Raise Compassionate, Anti-Racist, Justice-Minded Kids in an Unjust World. (small)

I think one thing that we can all agree on is that we want to leave this world in better shape than when we got here. Social Justice Parenting is my way of contributing to that cause. It's as much about keeping my children safe as it is about giving you the tools you need to empower your children to be more socially conscious.

As a mom of color, I know I can't do that alone. I need moms (and dads) who don't look like me to incorporate Social Justice Parenting in their homes for my children - my daughter but particularly my four Black sons - to feel safe, to feel valued, and to have a sense of belonging in the world.

One value that my husband and I have always agreed on, as we grew our family, is being open and honest with our children when it comes to the realities of the world around them. I plead the Fifth on Santa Claus and the tooth fairy, however.

When it comes to significant issues and hard questions, we generally don't shy away from them; we take this responsibility of parenting very seriously.

I often hear from parents that they want to keep their children in a bubble, protecting their innocence as long as possible. When many of my affluent white mom coaching clients begin working with me, they say they are going to wait as long as possible (or until their child asks) to talk about "those" topics.

My typical response is, "Aren't you lucky you get to choose?"

Many children don't have the choice of living in that bubble, not even for a minute. My kids certainly don't. The good news is that in the wake of nationwide calls for social justice, many moms have begun to realize that this idea of a bubble of innocence isn't extended to every child and is a function of privilege. They've realized that their bubble keeps children from the truth. You can't practice anti-racism in a bubble.

When you say you are an ally or an activist, but you still want to keep your children in the protected, fear-based bubble, then you need to question what that means for you and your family.

You cannot be an ally and parent from fear.

As a family engaged in Social Justice Parenting, it is our responsibility as human beings, to educate ourselves on how issues "out there" impact others. The only way that we can contribute to a world that's more peaceful, loving, and inclusive is to do work that highlights and exposes where we fit into it, our privileges and pain points, and consider how we can be of service to others.

If we only discuss events and topics from our privileged existence, we are not allowing our children to grow in ways that embrace other perspectives and seek to solve problems. For society's awareness/consciousness to transform, we need everyone - parents of color, white parents, wealthy parents, those living in economic poverty, ethnically diverse parents, parents of children with disabilities - to be willing to raise our little ones to see the value and humanity in us all.

I totally understand that each of you wants what's best for your children. So you should! But Social Justice Parenting means you also want and take actions toward, what's best for all children.

Social Justice Parenting requires you to engage in dialogue with your children about what's going on in the world beyond your front door or gated community. It involves modeling and taking action to change the things that marginalize, hurt, or stereotype others.

This is our job as parents. I believe in the power of radical love, and I remain hopeful that we will raise a generation of children who are more socially conscious and compassionate than ever.

From "Social Justice Parenting: How to Raise Compassionate, Anti-Racist, Justice-Minded Kids in an Unjust World" by Traci Baxley, to be published on October 19, 2021, by Harper Wave. Copyright © 2021 by Traci Baxley

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