The Reverend Dr. Jennifer Harvey is an educator, activist, and author of Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America. We discuss the importance of race-conscious parenting in the smog of racism, fostering healthy white identity, and creating a more just future.
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Race-conscious parenting affirms that we should notice race, and to recognize racism and racial injustice. It rejects colorblindness, which is essentially white silence. Race-conscious parenting embraces multicultural, multiracial communities and encourages children to be active participants in anti-racist engagement. Race-conscious parenting is a commitment to teach about racism and activate for racial justice.
Smog of Racism
Racism is like smog: it exists whether we notice it or not. It’s worse when we don’t realize it exists because then we do not counter it. It doesn’t take an adult to actively teach racism to children. White families often don’t realize or talk about the smog of racism, which creates a space for children to interpret the world themselves. They will draw their own conclusions when systems of injustice remain invisible to them.
Healthy White Identity
Healthy white identity in the US is anti-racist. It acknowledges the full history of the nation, both good and bad, from enslavement and genocide to the abolition and civil rights movements. It also rejects white guilt, minimizing vulnerability to white nationalist recruitment. Whites have agency to choose what kind of white person they want to be, reject racist legacies, and to work across racial lines to create a more just society for everyone.
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The Rev. Dr. Jennifer Harvey is an award-winning author, educator and public speaker. Her work focuses on ethics and race, gender, sexuality, activism, spirituality and politics—with particular attention to how religion shows up in these dimensions of our shared social life. Her greatest passion and longtime work, however, persistently and pointedly return to racial justice and white anti-racism.
Her most recent books, Raising White Kids and Dear White Christians, take a decidedly practical turn. They bring her experience as an anti-racist activist and educator to bear on conversations about how white communities can more deeply support racial justice work being led by communities of color. She is also the author of Whiteness and Morality: Pursuing Racial Justice through Reparations and Sovereignty and a co-editor of Disrupting White Supremacy: White People on What We Need To Do.
As our nation grapples with how to challenge and change white socialization to support anti-racist development in children and youth, she draws on her experience as both a seasoned activist and a parent to offer concrete and accessible models for doing so. Her work is rooted in evidence-based developmental theory, but also a relentless vision of a more just future in which all of us can flourish.
You can follow her on Twitter @DrJenHarvey.