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Parenting for Equity, Privilege Footprints, and Black Lives Matter

All week my thoughts have been with Jacob Blake and his three children. Blake is the black man in Kenosha, WI, who was shot five times in the back by police. He has survived this shooting, but is reportedly paralyzed from the waist down. Police shootings of our black and brown neighbors are stark and jarring evidence of systemic racism. It’s obvious that if he and I switched places (including alleged backgrounds), police would never have opened fire. I’m protected by a combination of my skin color and gender.

I write about parenting for equity because education suffers from the same systemic biases against children and families of color. However, educational inequities can be hard to see because they are not usually illuminated by incidents of violence (although…). Inequities in schools can slowly and surely kill futures.

Our privilege footprints are, in part, responsible for exacerbating inequities – especially when we are unaware of our impact. As parents, our decisions unintentionally unbalance the system. As a result, our children receive more of what they need and other children receive less. Like policing, these inequities disproportionately favor those of us with white skin and disadvantage black and brown children and families.

What does this look like day-to-day?

  • Well-meaning parents lobby a school district to choose a math curriculum in line with their educational beliefs and their child’s needs. However, this curriculum does not work well for all students.

  • Parents intervene in school placement decisions to secure a teacher better matched to their student. Doing so, creates a domino effect in which other students (with less vocal parents) are moved into a classroom less well matched.

  • Parents advocate for increased "rigor" in school academics while unaware that students of color experience daily racism in the form of bullying and microaggressions.

Each example is a “real-life” story – with details changed for anonymity. If you’ve read this far, I want to acknowledge that none of us with large “privilege footprints” want to make things worse for others. The thought is upsetting to me and I’m sure to you as well. The good news is that we can change this – the good news is that when we work to change this, we support others who have been disadvantaged by systemic racism.

On Friday, I’ll share ways we can manage our privilege and provide details about a workshop I’m offering in which we can explore these solutions in depth.

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