My heart has been heavy this week with the lack of empathy and compassion shown to the Black community in the face of such violence and oppression. I woke up this morning with a pit in my stomach, I'm sure many of you have felt the same. We strive as a family to speak openly to our children about race, difference and that in our family we love all people because of their differences not in spite of them. Sometimes though, it just doesn't feel like enough and I look around at the world I am living in and wonder how I can make lasting change.
I fully realize the need to listen and reflect at this moment, but as an educator and ally I also feel the strong pull to raise my voice and stand strong side by side with those facing oppression. I think a lot of mothers, especially white mothers who have never had these conversations with their children before, are at home at a loss for what to do next. I am by no means an expert, this experience has shown me that no matter how much work I have put in over the years to confront my implicit bias and combat racism, there is always more work to be done on a personal, communal and global level. Nevertheless, I thought I would share about a powerful moment that I had with my children and the activity that we did as a way to process our feelings about the state of the world and the plan we created to help spread love and kindness.
I spent the morning talking about what was happening to Black people in our country, the best way that I could, and I tried to explain to my 2.5 year olds why I was so upset. It wasn't perfect but I tried and I hope that this encourages you to open up that conversation with your children, no matter their age, if you haven't yet and do some work as a family to set a plan in action. I am a firm believer that saying something is better than saying nothing when it comes to talking to our children.
I asked them if they wanted to create something with me to show our community and the world that we are loving and accepting of all people in our home. We decided to paint something that we decided to call unity hearts, corazones de unidad, and to put them on our front windows as a symbol of love and acceptance.
Painting is a favorite activity in our home and I wanted to talk about the blending of colors and the beauty that comes from mixing two different colors to create something new and beautiful (see the metaphor). So I took two colors that would go well together and watered each one down in a little jar. Then I told them we would get to use pajas (straws) and they got really excited! We spooned a little bit of paint on the paper and then practiced blowing the paint all around with our pajas. The colors blended, the paint ran and it felt good to give my young children a creative way to talk about the importance of anti-racism and acceptance.
Once the paint was dry, we cut out corazones and hung them up on our windows. Now, whenever the girls see them they point and say "different is good" and while it isn't perfect, it is something. Our work will never be done but I am up to the challenge. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to work as a family to help make our world a more loving and welcoming place. I hope that this activity helps others who feel lost but want to engage their children in work that feels meaningful and want to get the conversation about anti-racism started at home.