As the parent of a young white boy and an Alaska Native/Central American enby (that's NB, or non-binary person) I have been struggling, folks. My kids were born in the same hospital with wildly different upbringings and outcomes.
My son came home on a bush plane with me at 11 days old to a village in remote Alaska. His traditional Yup'ik name, given to him by an elder along with a pair of sealskin maklaks, is "Boyaq". He has blond hair, blue eyes, Yup'ik name. He knows Yup'ik words and eats Yup'ik food. He's healthy, active, intelligent, empathetic, compassionate, and kind.
My oldest, L, moved in with us at age 18 and has had a much different life. They suffer from multiple immune disorders and mental illnesses like extreme anxiety and depression. They, like Charlie, are extraordinarily intelligent, kind, compassionate, and loving - but they are hurt so deeply. Part of it is environmental, but a lot of it is genetic. Epigenetics are something I've been digging into because recent research has shown that trauma gets passed down generationally - we see it in American descendants of slaves, Holocaust survivors' families, and Native communities. It literally changes the human body so deeply that the pain and trauma is passed down through bloodlines. My heart aches at the thought of it... all the residential schooling, the racism, the violence and abuse, the loss of culture... all buried in L's blood, showing up as illness to make life even harder.
So how do I deal with this? It's complicated. It's a constant battle. Daily exercises in racial and gender equity, conversations with Charlie about racism and colorism and colonialism and pronouns, chats with L about growth and support and love, non-stop battling with stereotypes of Native peoples, fighting for L to be seen as a person instead of a statistic... bigotry is exhausting, people. And the only way out is through education. We have to break the cycle.
So when Pastor Margaret sent this book my way, I added it to my arsenal of tools against bigotry. It goes through each basic developmental stage of a child and teaches parents how to talk to our kids about human differences at every level. From the simple "Why is my skin brown?" to the complicated "Why do some people call Black people the n-word?" this book addresses it all.
At the end of the day, it's our job as parents, citizens, and United Methodists to educate our children in tolerance, acceptance, love, equality, and safety. This book is a wonderful start. CLICK HERE FOR A FREE PDF COPY OF THE BOOK: https://www.tolerance.org/sites/default/files/general/beyond_golden_rule.pdf
Please watch for a new section of our website dedicated to justice! Coming soon!