Called to Action: Striving to Be an Anti-Racist Parent

I recently read an education blog post on PBS’s website: A Call to Action for White Educators Who Seek to Be Anti-Racist by Larissa Wright-Elson. As I was reading, it struck me that her thinking and efforts to be anti-racist as an educator also apply in spaces outside the classroom.  

Ms. Elson’s article addresses her role as a white parent and educator who strives to be anti-racist. The writings of Maya Angelou, Bryan Stevenson, Junot Diaz, and many others have helped her to understand our country’s history of racism and its present-day reality.  Ms. Elson enriches her curriculum by including works by a diverse group of authors who more accurately reflect her students. She recognizes systemic racism and reflects on how she can bring about change through her actions. She is reading and learning, but also questioning whether she is actually doing anything. Ms. Elson wants her actions to match her belief.   

I, too, am a white parent raising three white young men with my white husband. I am not an educator, but I am my children’s teacher. I’ve tried to educate myself on systemic racism through many of the same writings that Ms. Elson references. How I talk about racism and social justice gives a message to my sons about who is valued in our family and in our greater community.  The privilege that being white provides our family is apparent in many ways.  It would be easy to accept it without acknowledging that there is unequal access to opportunities.  

Reading this blog, it hit me that I am similar to Ms. Elson in another way: My actions don’t always match my beliefs. I talk about being an anti-racist and I see myself as someone who is passionate in my belief that DEI work is important work. But what am I actually doing? I realize that I need to do more than just talk about this with my children, my husband, and the people who feel the same way as I do. I need to have these conversations with the people in my life who don’t see things the same way instead of trying to avoid the subject with them. Biting my tongue in an effort to keep the peace isn’t helping anyone.  

Will this make a difference?  I don’t know, but I’m trying something different.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Norris

Elizabeth Norris the parent of two current Shipley students and one Shipley graduate. She loves volunteering at Shipley and being involved with my children's education. She says, "DEI is an important aspect of their education. Shipley's commitment to DEI demonstrates an awareness that there is a lot of work to be done in this area. I believe this work will positively impact the Shipley community of students, faculty and administration, and families. My involvement with the Upper School DEI committee is one way I can help bring about change."