Driving home from the screening of 9500 Liberty last July, I was trying to figure out how I was going to coordinate emergency care for three kids and three dogs, much less what I was going to say to my employer or how I was going to explain to my children, particularly my son who had just gotten home from a summer visit with dad earlier in the week, that mommy was gonna be going to jail on purpose. I thought perhaps I could just stay at the perimeter. I could be in solidarity without participating in civil disobedience. I could even just go to the interfaith service and march and not attend the protest altogether.
And then I thought about my neighbors. Not the ones south of the border, not even the ones across town. My neighbors across the street. Around the corner. At the grocery and the school bus stop. On the volleyball team my daughter plays on. At our barber shop. My favorite taco shop. It might be scary and unsettling for my children, but our potential separation would be brief… almost certainly less than 24 hours. It would be “scheduled” with people they know & trust on standby, prepared to help. For my neighbors, documented or not, whether or not they might find themselves in the Maricopa County Jail was a daily concern. For some of my neighbors, a visit to the Maricopa County Jail meant their families would face long term or permanent separation.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to look myself, or any of them, in the eye if I wasn’t willing to put my body on the line. It didn’t exactly work out like I planned… after three protests and once declining to provide a driver’s license to the officer that pulled me over, I still haven’t managed to get in to see Joe Arpaio. But that’s a whole ‘nother story. Back to the point… I hope my people (you know who you are) will volunteer at this event or during the week prior. If you can’t volunteer and still want to help, you can make a donation with The Sound Strike or text ‘Arizona’ to 50555 to give $5
I would like to thank you all for taking the time to read this letter. Many of you have helped PUENTE ARIZONA in the past, while others are new individuals who would like to get involved in the community. Due to the anti immigrant legislation (SB1070), several families this year will not be able to celebrate Christmas with their families. There will be several children this year spending Christmas away from their parents do to the separation of families. Other families will not have enough funds to be able to have a Christmas meal. The Sound Strike, PUENTE ARIZONA & (CDB) present the first annual Community Posada!
Join us on Saturday, December 18th 2010 for a community posada and Christmas celebrations for the Phoenix community. This year we are uniting as a community and helping the families celebrate Christmas with food and gifts.
This year our goal is to feed over 3,000 families! We are inviting everyone to join us at the posada as we feed the families in need and have a community Christmas celebration.
On Saturday we will have food, art activities for the children, music, activities, and several give a ways. WE NEED YOUR HELP! This event cannot happen without the help of several men; women and children who can volunteer and help us make this event possible. We are in need of 100 volunteers for Saturday’s event. We also need help during the week with the packaging of toys and food bags. If you would like to help volunteer please reply to this email or email Sandra@puenteaz.org.
We will be having a volunteer orientation on Thursday December 9th 2010 at 6:30pm at 802 N 7st Phoenix Arizona 85006. Please let us know if you can attend the orientation. For more information visit our website http://www.puenteaz.org or call 602-314-5870.
Event Coordinator/Community Organizer
There is an attitude among many parent-peers of mine in the DC metro area that frequently astounds me – parents I meet feel that by being “color blind” themselves, that somehow (magically?) their children will be open-minded, accepting, and capable of navigating complicated racial situations.
There really is no other way to say it…it’s a huge parenting failure. Maybe in an Utopian society we could all have the privilege of being “color blind,” but we live in the real world and only a fool thinks that color doesn’t matter on this planet.
A recent study by the Children’s Research Lab at the University of Texas backs up my POV on the subject. Austin area families participated in a study in which the goal was to determine “if typical children’s videos with multicultural story lines have a beneficial effect on children’s racial attitudes” (Newsweek).
There were three groups of families involved in the study. The first was group was sent home with just videos, the second group with videos and talking points, and the third group of families were given only the talking points. The last two groups were told to have conversations about race with their children every night for five nights.
At this point, something interesting happened. Five families in the last group abruptly quit the study. Two directly told Vittrup, “We don’t want to have these conversations with our child. We don’t want to point out skin color.”
Vittrup was taken aback—these families volunteered knowing full well it was a study of children’s racial attitudes. Yet once they were aware that the study required talking openly about race, they started dropping out.
“We don’t want to point out skin color.” Does that stop anyone from noticing skin color? Does that stop children from forming opinions on their own? In the absence of a guiding influence, children will substitute their own poor judgments, or worse, the hate-filled judgments of someone else.
The study went on to say:
It was no surprise that in a liberal city like Austin, every parent was a welcoming multiculturalist, embracing diversity. But according to Vittrup’s entry surveys, hardly any of these white parents had ever talked to their children directly about race. They might have asserted vague principles—like “Everybody’s equal” or “God made all of us” or “Under the skin, we’re all the same”—but they’d almost never called attention to racial differences.
They wanted their children to grow up colorblind. But Vittrup’s first test of the kids revealed they weren’t colorblind at all. Asked how many white people are mean, these children commonly answered, “Almost none.” Asked how many blacks are mean, many answered, “Some,” or “A lot.” Even kids who attended diverse schools answered the questions this way.
More disturbing, Vittrup also asked all the kids a very blunt question: “Do your parents like black people?” Fourteen percent said outright, “No, my parents don’t like black people”; 38 percent of the kids answered, “I don’t know.” In this supposed race-free vacuum being created by parents, kids were left to improvise their own conclusions—many of which would be abhorrent to their parents.
Are these parents really surprised? If you have values to impart to your children about equality, it will take more than vague statements about everyone being “the same.” Kids are smart. They know very well that we are not all “the same.” What they need to hear is that we are all uniquely different, and they need reasons to value that uniqueness. You, parents, need to find ways to value people of color. Find ways to compliment and seek out positive statements to impart to your children. Have frequent, open conversations about race. Talk about slavery, talk about segregation, talk about miscegenation, talk about stereotypes and hurtful language…talk, talk, and then talk more! Kids need to know what is acceptable and they need to see with eyes that are wide open, not color blind.
At first glance, the study appears to be a dismal failure. Many of the families did not talk about race at all, or changed the talking points. However, there was a ray of hope:
Of all those Vittrup told to talk openly about interracial friendship, only six families managed to actually do so. And, for all six, their children dramatically improved their racial attitudes in a single week. Talking about race was clearly key. Reflecting later about the study, Vittrup said, “A lot of parents came to me afterwards and admitted they just didn’t know what to say to their kids, and they didn’t want the wrong thing coming out of the mouth of their kids.”
In ONE short week, all six of those families improved the racial attitudes of their children. By TALKING. Imagine that.
I understand that parents are hesitant to talk about race for fear of saying the wrong thing. I encourage you (beg, really) to try. Seek out some material if you need it. There are books, websites, and blogs with plenty of good advice. The simplest (and most obvious) thing to do, is to seek out some interracial friendships of your own, and then talk to your friends about how to discuss race. I guarantee they will be happy to help you have positive discussions about race with your children. Also, it’s worth saying that if you espouse a desire to have children who embrace multiculturalism, and you have no friends of color, then you should practice being what you desire your children to be. If your children never see you have a meaningful friendship with someone of another race, what does that really tell them? Just food for thought.
What I do know, is that doing nothing is the wrong answer. Clearly, not talking about race leaves children confused and unsure at best, and harboring racist thoughts at worst. It’s up to parents to guide our children through complicated racial issues. It’s time to embrace the task, rather than dread it. What could be more affirming than to teach your children how to walk in this world, not colorblind, but with an appreciation for diversity and a sense of value for all people.
originally posted at Golden Acorn Homeschool » Blog Archive » Why You Should Be Talking About Race.
- Is It OK to Point Out the Differences Among Races? (race.change.org)
- Colorblind parents could handicap their biracial kids (thegrio.com)
- Getting to Post-Post-Racial (theroot.com)
- Starting the conversation (psychologytoday.com)
- Wray Herbert: Colorblind? Or Just Blind to Justice? (huffingtonpost.com)
Today I am so thankful for my little people. They drive me crazy sometimes (last night being one of those times), but as much as they pretend to hate each other, they don’t. Last night Tyler was about to knock out an obnoxious, (unflattering description) girl at the ASU Volleyball game. All the kids wanted to see Sparky, and she kept pushing up to the front and getting in his face yelling. She almost knocked Daija & another of the younger girls from our team down in the process, and Tyler was poking tapping her arm, “Little girl. EXCUSE ME. Little girl.” Once he could finally get up to Sparky, he got his ticket autographed with Halle’s number.
And I must also give thanks that Daija came home yesterday (YAY) and her hair was looking great (WOO HOO)!
Daija is spending the week with Biker Grandma & Grandpa… this is the hairstyle she went with. From what I hear, it’s holding up really well and has been very popular around town. We’ll see how it looks when I pick her up on Saturday! Fingers crossed… you know we’ve had trouble when Daija went to visit family in years past!
Today’s grats will be short and sweet… I’m driving Daija up to visit Biker Dad today & have some last minute packing and hair to do so we can get this show on the road.
- Tyler goes back to school this week. That boy has eaten the better part of four loaves of bread and a jar of peanut butter this week.
- The girls have fall break this week. It will be nice not to worry about hair or be rushing a little girl who had time for lip gloss but forgot to brush her teeth until it was time to leave. *SMH*
- Speaking of Biker Dad, I am also very thankful for him and my Aunt Laura. It’s been a joy having them in my life this past year.
- I must also give thanks to my Aunt Joyce, who has also been a joy to me. She never stopped hoping we’d be reunited and never stopped looking for me. Had it not been for her hope and faith, we all would be missing so much.
Guest blogging a review of 1-2-3 Magic is one of my oldest friends, Heidi. We’ve been friends for more than 20 years. This girl loves her family and friends, is deeply passionate about her causes, and I don’t know anyone who loves school as much as she does. In addition to being a mom, wife, gardener, and raw foods officionado, Heidi volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA).
Does that sound familiar?
How about: “You are grounded until you are 30!” Two days later, “Mom, can I go to so-and-so’s house” “Yeah, sure, have a good time.”
Or perhaps: “The reason you can’t do that, is……..**Twenty minutes later**….do you understand?”
We all have our parenting issues…whether learned from our parents, from well meaning parenting classes or even the University of Hard Knocks. Regardless of the differences, there is one thing that I hear from almost every parent: “I wish there was a manual that came with this kid.” The closest thing I have ever found is 1-2-3 Magic. Read more…
I mean, we already talk because the bottom line is if you don’t talk to them, Lil Wayne‘s going to talk to them. So, I mean, really.Somebody’s going to talk them – I love New York – somebody’s going to talk to them. So the point is, who’s going to talk and what’s going to be said? And I like what he did because what was said needed to be said. It was from personal experience. I’m anxious for part two, okay? There’s nothing like being able to share with your daughter what you went through, you understand? Because she’s looking – my daughter’s looking at me. You know, she may like Michelle Obama, she may like her grandmother, but she’s looking at me.
Let that last sentence marinate… I mean, really, really marinate. When our daughters are looking at us, what are we showing them? Regardless of what we tell them, what do they see? Read more…