What I've Learned From Other Dads About Racial Injustice
Is any other dad’s head spinning right now?
Times are tough. Turmoil is everywhere around us, and the effects are being felt by everyone. There is an outcry from people everywhere – for leaders, for justice, and for hope.
With each day that passes, the voices are louder and the needs are greater. How do we move through continued racial injustice in a positive and productive way?
What are you supposed to do as a dad through all this? What do you tell your kids? Do you even tell your kids? How do you talk about these big world issues without scaring them? What age is appropriate to start talking about this? Should you talk about it? Or do you completely shelter them from this? Maybe you have some of those questions. Or maybe you’ve already made the decisions…
Either way, I just want to put it out there that I am wrestling with many of these questions. The fact I’m a biracial dad, who has normally remained focused on what can be done in the face of difficulty, makes me feel even more uncertain now. I don’t know what to do. And I don’t even really know where to start.
If you’re feeling something similar then I hope this can be an encouragement to you. I hear you, and feel you.
Writing this blog post is my attempt at starting.
So was bringing up the topic of race in our last Connected Dads call. What resulted was a rich, passionate, and helpful talk with other dads about what really matters. We explored what happened with George Floyd and the aftermath (two of our dads are in the US). We debated how you bring about real change (that is so long overdue). We talked about raising kids and family decisions related to race.
One of the dads, who is white and has two black children, shared passionately. It was enlightening to hear how the racial climate in the US had influenced their family decisions (they have other white children). We talked about values, leading our families, and taking on the challenge of creating kids who grow up to stand up for what is right.
While we talked, we also listened a lot. Each dad came from different backgrounds and ethnicities, and that enabled us to learn from our unique experiences. Each dad shared strong opinions, but we found unity around this idea – doing what was right for our children and their future.
The most rewarding part of this conversation was feeling heard. Though we differed, voiced our thoughts, and generally spoke up when we felt it was valid, ultimately we valued each other. We showed respect to one another. We cared for each other. We even challenged each other in a healthy and honourable way.
I reflect on that conversation and am grateful it happened. I actually want to have more of them with other dads. Maybe they all won’t go as well, but I’m willing to listen, to ask questions, and to try my best to understand other’s views and to learn.
So as I think about the challenges ahead and my uncertainty as a dad I feel two important things:
1. I have to talk about it (‘it’ can be any challenge or difficult/uncomfortable situation)
2. I have to keep an open mind and look to others for advice and encouragement
While I’m not offering any answers to the questions I posed above, I know there are others who are addressing them. I will continue to seek them out, ask questions, gain understanding and share what I’m learning with those closest to me.
Yes, my head might still be spinning afterwards, but at least it will be slow enough for me to take the next step.