Just one week after George Floyd was horrifically murdered at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis, I was sitting outside watching my daughters play in the sandbox. We were shaded by a tree, the wind blowing softly. I breathed in the crisp morning air, sipped my coffee. It felt peaceful. What a privilege it is to enjoy a peaceful moment like this.
In these quiet moments, I am not worrying about harm coming to my children or myself. I am not grieving the past, present, and future because I am Black. My girls may experience sexism in their lifetime, but I won’t have to worry about their bodies being beaten or killed because of the color of their skin. My bones do not ache with the deep worries of a Black mother or mothers raising Black children. I am privileged.
I am embarrassed to admit I only recently recognized what my role in the Black Lives Matter movement could and should be. When it came to race, I was always fearful of saying the wrong thing or being offensive. Unfortunately, that kept me from speaking about race and racial injustice in the way(s) I should have. I am so sorry. I want to do better.
As I watch injustice after injustice happen to People of Color, I want to be a part of the change. The change that is such a long time coming. But as a White Christian in the throes of caring for two small children, how can I truly care for and support the black community through this horrific time?
Where do I begin with taking action?
**Disclaimer: I am not claiming to be an expert on being proactive!**
Instead, I want to share a few things that have been helpful to me. And if you are a White mom whose heart aches for injustice like me (or anyone else for that matter!), maybe these starting points will be helpful to you as well.
Google defines white privilege as: inherent advantages possessed by a white person on the basis of their race in a society characterized by racial inequality and injustice. Privilege exists because our society’s structure is foundationally oppressive to certain people groups.
The popular quote being passed around on social media this week sums it up well: “white privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard, it means your skin tone isn’t one of the things making it harder.” That has been helpful for me.
Being privileged isn’t a completely new concept for me. I have thought about my white privilege before. But not extensively.
For most of my life, being white has afforded me the ability to sit comfortably from the sidelines when it comes to racial justice/injustice. Sympathetic to the plight of People of Color, but complacent.
I realize I won’t get all of my words right, all of the time. But it is counterproductive to be silent for fear of offending. I need to learn, grow, and unlearn. And that begins with reflecting on my privilege–what it has truly afforded me, and if and how I can leverage it to fight for the oppressed.
We need to educate ourselves–on systemic oppression (past and present) and the roles we play in upholding systems that support oppression. We have to deconstruct the false things we’ve been taught that fuel racism.
We need to stop defending ourselves and listen to Black people. Really Listen.
May we, as White Christians, be filled with righteous anger against racism alongside our Black brothers and sisters. May we pray for God to give us righteous anger, where indifference currently lives.
It is common among Christians to view anger as scary. But our God–that is perfect and without sin–experiences anger. Righteous anger. And that type of anger is rooted in love. And it fuels action.
In the small moments when in the company of close family, friends, neighbors we can speak up against racism . This may not feel as flashy as protesting in the streets, but it is equally important. And it is something we can start today.
And if you are able to attend protests, do that too! We are already seeing the change it can bring.
We can love and support the Black community as they face unrest, heartache, and anger with the money we spend.
We can support local Black owned businesses. We can donate funds to causes that are doing great work. Below is a list of some resources you can donate to:
“KENTUCKY CITIZENS: Wanting to advocate actively and effectively can be overwhelming when you don’t know where to start. Below, you will find contact information for local, state, and federal representatives of Kentucky, as well as blurbs you can copy and paste to email these representatives to advocate for the African American community and criminal justice reform.
Writing to federal representatives regarding support of criminal justice reform and drug sentencing:
I, (your name), as a citizen of the United States, Kentucky, and an ally of the African American community, implore you to voice support of the bipartisan Smarter Sentencing Act which reduces the length of federally mandated minimum drug sentencing in half, making the Fair Sentencing Act’s cocaine sentencing reforms retroactive, and expands the safety valve exception to mandatory drug sentencing.
I also implore you to voice support of the bipartisan Justice Safety Valve Act which allows judges the freedom to give sentences other than the mandatory minimum sentence of any federal crime.
Additionally, I implore you to voice your support for the criminal justice reform bill: the Second Look Act which will reduce mandatory minimum of sentencing for people convicted more than 3 times for drug crimes from life without parole to 25 years, reduce mandatory sentencing for drug crimes from 15 years to 10 years, and limit the use of solitary confinement on juvenile prisoners and limit solitary confinement of adult offenders to 15 days-any longer which is considered torture.
Writing to state and local representatives in regard to body cameras and de-escalation tactics:
I, (your name), a citizen of the United States and Kentucky, implore you to mandate the activation of body cameras for all on-duty law enforcement members. These body cameras should be worn on every single officer and should be activated immediately upon beginning to respond to a call. We MUST be able to hold officers accountable for unnecessary force and blatant displays of violence. For far too long, there has been little accountability for law enforcement regarding their treatment of citizens, specifically African American citizens. This must stop NOW.
I also implore you to develop a more in-depth training for de-escalation tactics and ensure that each officer completes this training every 6 months to ensure adequate de-escalation skills while in the field-where adrenaline can be running high. We must make VERY clear that acts of excessive force and violence will not be tolerated and will not be protected under the title of law enforcement. Accountability must start NOW.
Writing to state and local representatives regarding state-wide criminal justice reform:
I, (your name), a citizen of Kentucky, write to you to implore you to support state-wide criminal justice reform including, but not limited to, reducing mandatory minimum sentencing, reducing sentences for non-violent drug crimes, passing “safety valve” law to allow judges to depart below a mandatory minimum sentence under certain conditions, and to ensure that all of these reforms are made retroactive to individuals currently serving time for these specific circumstances. I also implore you to advocate for the legalization of marijuana-which is a non-violent crime. African Americans are disproportionately represented in the incarcerated community and disproportionately tried and convicted of nonviolent drug crimes. We must start to dismantle the systematic racism that soaks our society to the core and it must start NOW with criminal justice reform on a local level.
Website to find local representatives based on your district:
Contact the Kentucky Govenor:
Kentucky Federal Representatives:
And if you are not a Kentucky resident, you can find your local information online. Or you can use this resource to get the information you need:
I will be honest, I wasn’t sure where to begin with teaching my kids about the ugliness of racism and oppression. Aside from talking often about different skin colors [and their beauty] and having a handful of dolls/barbies with brown skin in our home, how can I press in more?
A book I have found very helpful is Raising White Kids: Bringing up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey.
She argues that we as parents shape how our children see the world. And that “our parental work is to knit together as part of our children’s most basic formative schema a notion of race as visible and normal; an awareness of racial injustice and a working presumption that people can and do take actions against racism.”
You can certainly Google for yourself books to begin reading to your children, but I found this article from the Gospel Coalition to be a great starting point. It has a compiled list of children’s books based on age, which is helpful.
This information is by no means an exhaustive list for us White parents. If you have other resources, please share them with me in the comments or email them to me at Lacey@unbrokenmama.com and I will add them to this post.
I would love to hear what has been challenging and helpful for you.
“PSA: Real systemic change requires long-term investments. Talk to me. What’s your long-term investment in all of this? What opportunities can you create? What doors can you open? How can we support these efforts? Let’s be intentional.”
I am challenged by her words. This cannot be a fleeting cause I support but forget about once the hashtag is no long trending. Moving forward, what lasting changes am I going to contribute? What are yours?
Can we learn to empathize and not just sympathize? Can we mourn with those who are hurting in a way that is helpful? What can we do in our homes that can further the cause of racial equality? In our workplace? When our neighbor makes a racist joke? What can I teach my daughters about their privilege and about oppression of minorities even at their young ages (4 & 1.5 years old)?
As I continue to sort through what my contribution can be, I will be praying this prayer daily:
Convict me Lord, reveal to me my sin.
Help me to grow in knowledge,
and let that fuel my actions.
God give us endurance to run this marathon,
alongside the oppressed.
Give us compassion that fuels our actions.
May we learn to walk the road to solidarity
and not be afraid to mess up.
To continuously have hearts postured
toward learning and changing.
I created a journal prompt for heart work regarding white privilege, you you are interested. You can find it here.
We’ve been taking a Be The Bridge class for white folks on how to start understanding white supremacy, white fragility, white privilege, and developing a white identity. It’s been so helpful, and one of the things that I find to be most helpful is to have a community of other WHITE people to walk with. Making sure that we don’t continue to place the burden of fixing the problem that we created on Black people. Thanks for this post, Lacey!