BLM "Year of Purpose" and raising race-conscious white children
Leigh Ann Johnson says when she was raised, her family never really talked much about race.
“That’s why it was uncomfortable for me to start that conversation with my own kids at first,” Johnson says. She says she had her own awakening a few years ago when her older daughter was at a co-operative preschool. She began with baby steps.
“I took a webinar about raising race-conscious children,” Johnson says. “Four years later, my older daughter, Alma, and I are able to have much more in-depth conversations as I’ve learned how to talk about race and racism.”
When the West Seattle parent of two daughters recently saw the Black Lives Matter at School post about “Year of Purpose,” she was easily able to tailor the self-reflection questions and back to school activities for one kindergartner and one third grader.
“I feel it’s so important for parents to involve themselves and their kids in this regardless of their school or their district,” Johnson says. She serves on her daughters’ elementary school equity team and often finds herself encouraging both parents and teachers to have conversations with students about racism to help students build a foundation. While teachers at the school are encouraged to teach a lesson as part of Black Lives Matter at School, Johnson says she wishes there were many more opportunities for students to become more literate in understanding systemic racism and learning ways to interrupt it.
Johnson says she also understands how overwhelmed educators are during these pandemic times, which is why, as a parent, she is ensuring her kids in their learning more about how racism impacts everyone.
That’s one reason she posts what she is doing with her own kids – to encourage other parents to do the same. Her Sept. 10 post reads: “Today, the kids and I did our own version of the BLM at School's "Year of Purpose" Self-Reflection Questions and Black to School activities. Our modified questions: What does Black Lives Matter mean? Why is it important? What can you do at your school to show that Black Lives Matter and to make the school a more inclusive, safer place for Black people? Then they each made their own drawing to show what we talked about. We had talked about the first two questions before, but it is so helpful to revisit them regularly. I had to share my own observations about ways the school is not inclusive and safe to help with the last question, but I think this will help them start noticing more of these things on their own. Let's get this year of purpose started!”
Johnson says she is an advocate of building that strong foundation that kids need to understand before they can take the next step in becoming anti-racists. Whether her daughters are at school or online, she is dedicated to help teach them how to actively fight to make sure they know Black lives matter.