Ever since the murder of Trayvon Martin four years ago, my
attention has constantly been drawn to issues of race. For the most part, the
conversations have felt divisive, and I've grown tired of the narrative that
denies American history and ignores the pain of the "otherness" of African
But my despair was eased somewhat this weekend when a white woman
asked me how she can help build a bridge between black and white people. She
shared that she had recently made a Facebook post suggesting that women of all
races make the leap toward reconciliation. She has a biracial son and feels
compelled to dissolve what separates us.
Racism is not just a black and white issue. We all have a part to do to help create a more accepting and understanding world for our kids. But for this post, I decided to tackle her question from my perspective as a black mom and created a list of things non-black people, especially parents, can do to
help bridge the divide in this country.
1. Don't be afraid to acknowledge it if you have fears
of black people.
Get curious about your fears and ask yourself probing
questions about what your fears are rooted in. Overlooking your fears only suppresses the issues.
2. Don't take the media's word as truth about black people.
Black people are diverse in all the ways one can imagine. The stereotypes we see in the media don't touch the depths of who we are.
3. Understand that racism is a by-product of what
happens when we are ignorant about or unfamiliar with people who are different from
Educate yourself about black culture, which is just an aspect of the
4. Don't be afraid to talk openly about issues of
race with your friends and family.
Remember that race issues are truly human
5. If you don't understand why black people feel the way we do about race and topics like white privilege, don't dismiss our feelings.
Make it your responsibility to challenge yourself, learn, develop empathy and be willing to understand some day. Listen—truly listen—with an open mind and don't stop trying.
6. If you don't already read black authors, start
Reading books written by black authors will give you access into
worlds beyond your own without making your feel ill at ease. Books are a great
way to further your understanding of different cultures.
7. Don't be afraid that black people, if given
power, will retaliate against whites.
8. Understand that the Black Lives Matter movement
is not against white lives and does
not suggest that other lives don't matter.
The message that black lives matter
arose from the heartbreak felt from the murders of unarmed black boys, men and
women by police officers.
9. If you have black friends, coworkers or
neighbors, find the courage to talk about race with them.
Ask questions about
how they feel and how they are managing emotionally as racial tensions surface.
10. Educate your children and teach them to be
empathetic toward people who are different from them.
This applies to all
people, not just black people. If your children do not interact with people of
different races on a frequent basis, then take them places where they will. We
learn to appreciate and accept others when we try to get to know them.
11. If you have black friends who are parents, let
them know you care.
Let them know that instances like black boys being murdered by cops is not just a concern of black parents. We
need other parents to support us.