Antiracist families start with open conversation - Jackson Hole News & Guide
Dear Parents and Caregivers,
My greatest wish is for children to grow up to feel and be accepted for who they are; to be healthy in all aspects of the word -- emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually; to believe in themselves and feel good about who they are -- not because of what they have done -- but merely because they were born; and to be able to move through the world with a sense of agency and capability. My greatest hope is for families to thrive, to know how to navigate challenges and come out the other side, to care for and take care of one another and to find ways to contribute to their larger community.
That is why I’m in this work. Being a parent and raising children is hard. With the right support, though, I don’t think it needs to be that hard. So I work to support parents on their heartfelt journey of raising children in today’s fast paced and ever changing world.
While there are times I talk in universals about parenting, I realize that family diversity is enormous. Not only are there the obvious differences in families due to culture, race, geographic location, socio-economic status, religion, political beliefs, family composition (divorced, single parenting, gender, sexual orientation, grandparents, foster, adoptive) and more, there are also individual cultural differences between families who may appear more similar from the outside.
While all this may be true, it is also important to recognize that for some families realizing my greatest wish for children mentioned above (to feel accepted for who they are) might be easier than for others. It can be profoundly painful and even traumatic to be denied acceptance for who you are if society tells you you aren't acceptable based on the color of your skin or your sexual identity. When one group has the power, and an inordinate access to resources and privilege over another, it can be harder to be healthy in every sense of the word. And when a marginalized identity experiences discrimination it can be difficult to move through the world with a sense of agency and capability.
Similarly it can be hard for families to thrive and move through challenges when they don’t have access to necessary resources.
I apologize if my writing in universals has offended or excluded anyone. I work hard to take into account a diverse array of contexts, beliefs and situations, yet given the extreme diversity in individual family systems, I know I don’t always get it right. So I welcome your opinions. Your feedback. Your discourse.
I want to be clear about something else. It is important to note that racism isn’t about people and families being different. It’s about one racial group having power, dominance, access to resources, prejudice and privilege over another racial group based on an idea of perceived superiority.
If we want a racially just society, and I sure hope we all do, we need to talk to our children and teens about racism and antiracism in an open and honest way. Dive into my column in this week’s Jackson Hole News & Guide for the first in a two-part series on talking to your children about race.
Be well, go hug your kids, and take good care of yourselves and others.
With love and faith in you,
Rachel Wigglesworth has an M.Ed. in Parent and Family Education and is excited to explore the world of raising children with you!