Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Raising an Activist

Our family has a lot of privilege.  A lot.

We're white, heterosexual, married, cisgender, and college-educated with no remaining student loans.  Chris is a man.  We were raised in still-married two-parent households. By and large, we are not targets for discrimination.

However, especially with the new administration going the way it is, we can't stay silent.  So, as a family, we participated in the Women's March in San Jose.  It was Everett's first peaceful protest, but it will not be his last.  Grandma and Grandpa Thoma were also in town for a visit and we are proud they marched along side us.

Marching in San Jose at the Women's March on January 21, 2017.  Everett was sleeping.

Of course, Evie is too small to understand protests, discrimination, and sexism.  That doesn't mean it isn't time for us to start instilling in him the important values that drive us to protest (and take other actions like calling our representatives, donating to legal action organizations, and volunteering).
  • Compassion.  Even though most of the issues don't impact us directly, they do impact other people.  We stand with them and we support them.
  • Privilege.  We have it and Evie has it.  How can we be good allies?
  • Knowledge.  We don't automatically know things.  We need to learn - by talking to people, by listening to experts about their research and learnings, and by recognizing things we experience directly.
  • Action.  It's one thing to think about the world and these issues, but nothing changes if people don't get off their butts!
How will we do this day-to-day?  Of course we will learn as we go.  In the spirit of learning from others, we found some fantastic resources and jumping off points:
  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 15-point guide to raising a feminist.  This is lengthy, but so worth it.  It is addressed to someone raising a daughter, and an Igbo daughter at that.  Even the specifics towards raising a girl and someone with African tribal heritage are illuminating for these boy parents.
  • 9 Tips for Raising a Socially Aware Child.  This list is practical, which makes it very helpful!  It also linked to this meaty (and link-filled) blog post about talking racism with white kids. 
  • How You Can Raise an Activist Kid: A Teen's Perspective.  It is what it sounds like and offers practical advice from the child's point of view.  Our favorite quote is this one, "Tell them they will be good at the things they value because they will put more time into them, not because they were born smart or gifted."
We're planning on participating in the March for Science in April, and we'll be keeping our ears and hearts open for more opportunities to get out and speak up.

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a Social Justice Warrior!

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