Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America

Jennifer Harvey's: "Raising White Kids:  Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America is a book that parents and non-parents should both read!    Harvey clearly explains why:
"I don't see race.   I look at everyone equally" is a belief that supports continued systemic racism most effectively.

She also clearly explains that while an approach seeking and supporting diversity is also not effective in ending racism.   "But nonracism is not the same thing as antiracism.  It is important to combat stereotypes and biases.  But in any context where racism and racial injustice already run rampant, nonracism isn't enough to create equity or justice." (p.19)

Harvey gives numerous, effective examples, often from her parenting her two daughters, to show both effective and ineffective strategies.   She talks a lot about Children of Color and their parents and how commonly they lack the choices that white parents have.   Their children face racism all the time in their lives, while white children commonly don't experience racism until they are close to being teenagers, unless their parents affirmatively confront racism in their lives and model effective anti-racism work and growth through their own actions.

Harvey is most effective in explaining how children's attitudes towards race are clearly formed between the ages of three and eight.

In speaking of her (white) college students she states:  The relatively poor quality of racial conversations between white parents and their children is a key reason my white students look like deer in headlights.   For white students in my college classroom the fear is different from what students of color may experience.  Because, prior to this point, they are less likely to have been actively nurtured in their understanding of race and its meaning in their lives, white students are generally far, far behind their peers of color.  Their racial understanding is underdeveloped, at best, deeply confused at worst.  Their experience is something like having only ever been taught basic addition and suddenly being thrown into a calculus class." (p. 8-9)

"Race-conscious parenting is an approach that insists on noticing and naming race early and often.  Being race conscious means thinking about, talking about, acting in response to the recognition (or consciousness)  of race.  It means noticing race, seeing race, and admitting that we do so in direct and overt ways.  This approach stands in dramatic and start contrast to color-blindness."

Harvey talks a lot about how difficult it is to do what she indicates is necessary.   She talks about how our white children can easily have doubts and find it difficult to do what is important, particularly if we don't bring up the issues proactively.  As white kids get older, they increasingly may get attacked by others and pushed towards feeling guilty because they are white.

Harvey comes across as a very thoughtful, very caring person.   Her book is excellent!


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