Illustration: Amika Cooper
You might hear the expression “anti-racist” and think, “Yes, I’m against racism; therefore, I’m anti-racist.” Many people think this, but “anti-racist” actually means more than believing that racism is wrong. It means action. It requires moving, not just being moved. Listening and learning is only the start.
If you feel tired of hearing about racism, imagine how Black people feel when police kill another Black person. Ask Asian people how they feel when they are blamed for the spread of coronavirus. Ask Muslim people how they feel about Islamophobia. Ask Indigenous people how they feel when they have no clean drinking water. We can rest, but we can’t stop. Fighting racism is everyone’s battle.
As parents, one of the best ways we can be anti-racist is to educate and raise anti-racist children. There is no advantage in the attempt to shelter children from racism. It’s systemic. They will notice—and they do, studies have shown, as early as preschool.
This isn’t about judgment. It’s not about what we did or didn’t do before. It’s about what you can do now, whether or not it makes you, or the people you care about, uncomfortable.
In this series, you’ll find concrete steps you can take. Learn how to explain the language of anti-racism, and teach everyone in your children’s circle of care to understand it, too. Teach your kids about the power of protest and learn how to take part safely. Curate the media your family consumes and the toys your children play with. Sympathize with Black parents who have to teach their children that the police look at them differently. Celebrate the joyful stories, not just the challenging ones.
It is crucial that the next generation grows up with an understanding of the insidiousness of racism. Because even if they hear all about anti-racism at home, they may hear otherwise elsewhere. We can’t protect our kids from racism. But we can arm them with the weapons to fight it.