Learning to love, and be loved by, the ‘other’

Hard though it is to admit, I grew up implicitly fearing black faces like his. Not because my kind and inclusive parents were consciously racist—because they and their society hadn’t yet learned how to be consciously antiracist. So I drank my portion of the poison of racism that permeates American life and defines dark faces as dangerous, irresponsible, hyper-sexual, unintelligent, less-than…

But God saw fit to make this the face of my other father, a man who loved and cherished me far more than I deserved. And oh how he loved and cherished our three little kids! Although it hurt to see Dad Mnisi laid to rest an ocean away yesterday, I’m so glad our children will always remember this as the playful, intelligent, tender, inquisitive, laughing, and loving face it was. The face of a beautiful black man who bears the image of God. For my remembrance of Dad last week, click here.

I pray God will help us all to see there are only two choices before us – racist or antiracist – and to choose the righteous one. How are you learning to practice antiracism and impart it to your kids? Some ideas and resources below.

  1. Learn the History

Because we can’t teach what we do not really know, I’ve had to make an ongoing study of American racism (I have a long way to go). There are countless scholarly and popular books, articles, podcasts, and films available on the subject. Here are a few of our more in-depth recommendations:

2. Teach our Children

Teach our young kids by simply lifting up the stories of people of color – both ordinary and extraordinary – and ensuring all groups are represented so there is no ‘norm’ and no ‘other’ in their minds. We needn’t be too quick to weigh pre-schoolers down with darker truths but simply habituating them to black success and normalcy can lay a good foundation. Here are some of our favorite books for the toddler years (part of the fun of multilingualism means loads of Zulu and German books, and the Zulu ones have wonderful themes and imagery we don’t often find in English)…

For a comprehensive list of educational resources on racism for children of various ages, click here.

3. Move into Action

As we deepen our understanding of racial injustice, let’s build regular action against such injustice into our weekly routine. Signing petitions and sending letters to our elected officials don’t make change on their own but they are necessary parts of a winning campaign for structural change and collectively they really do add up. This page alone from the NAACP has five substantive actions you can take. Join us! https://www.naacp.org/campaigns/we-are-done-dying/

For more ideas and actions, see the other posts in this collection.

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