I must say that I am not just grateful for the person I married, but for the journey in cultural intelligence that he has embarked on even years before meeting me and before his commitment to raise biracial and multiethnic kids. As it pertains to white folks, conversations about racial hierarchy or white supremacy can be difficult for obvious reasons and can often result in feelings of hopelessness, blame, guilt, or a number of defensive and unhelpful reactions. For this reason, in our marriage and in our family, acknowledging that we see color and are aware of the consequences created by the social construct of race is very important. If we claim not to see color or choose to remain culturally unintelligent, we can’t love or affirm who or what we fail to see and understand.
My husband could choose to give kumbaya, feel-good sermonettes about black people being beautiful or simply focusing on the fact that God loves everyone the same but instead he chooses to go deeper and aims to teach our children to notice disparities, such as an over or underrepresentation of racial and ethnic groups in media and in school books. His wants our children to identify for themselves and interrupt the systems and mediums that cause and promote racial hierarchy.
Teaching children the cause of racial disparities means talking about the spaces where racial hierarchies of power and dominance are being perpetuated and left unchallenged and unchecked. This is a method of teaching children that goes beyond being sensitive to social injustice and disparities but equips them to search out the cause so that they may lead or contribute to the solution. For it is the creation and implementation of solutions that decenter whiteness and remove white and upper-class advantage in education, healthcare, the judicial system, housing, employment, etc. that can usher in justice, mercy, and joy rather than remain parked in the preliminary stages of lament, conversations, and strategic plans that do not make action and change an urgent priority.
Feeling like their histories, traditions, and ways of being are inherently inferior due to the marginalization of their cultures and experiences in schools and society, is the consequence that children often burden alone when our classrooms, churches, and families avoid conversations that address inequity and ethnic or racial bias, believing in the myth of “color blindness” as a way to protect children from racism and prejudice. In fact, children learn early that what we talk about, we care about, and what we don’t talk about, means little to us. In a racialized world that categorizes, abuses, suspends, incarcerates, and executes people based on the amount of melanin in their skin, our family cannot afford to leave the conversation of race and the affirmation of our boys’ multiethnic identities and heritages up to chance nor will we wait for schools to listen and prioritize the overwhelming majority of black and brown voices.