Disclaimer: There are so many ways to be anti-racist. Too many to put in here. These are specific to parents in Akron.
Mix up playdates
Get to know parents of other backgrounds. Seek out and listen to immigrant parents, Black parents, Asian, and Latinx parents. Get to know them as people and not just token friends or sources of information on “the issues.” Have your kids meet and play together. The mom-meet-mom app named Peanut is great for this. Your city, your neighborhood is more diverse than you think.
Actively educate yourself
If you’re lucky enough to have Black and brown friends, don’t rely on them to answer all your questions, correct you, or open up about things that affect their community. No one person is an authority or representative of their whole culture anyway. The University of Akron has Black Literature and Black Experience history courses and Spanish and Arabic language and culture courses. Because of COVID, classes are online for 2020. Learn about Black contributions to Akron’s history through historical society archives.
Get uncomfortable and take an implicit bias test. What ingrained thoughts about minorities do you have? How have you shared these with your children? How have you and your children unwittingly benefited from systemic racism?
Take action with your kids
If you don’t feel comfortable attending protests with your kids, hold a protest in your yard. Visit the canals in Cuyahoga Valley National Park where slaves probably fled on the Underground Railroad. Show them Akron’s African American paper The Reporter and find the names of those killed by police. Hint: An easy one is a headline on the front page of October 10, 1970.
Toys and Talk
Talking about race is not racist. It’s OK and it is important. Join Akron-Summit County Public Library or your local CLEVNET branch and request to read some books from Cleveland Public Library’s Discussing Race list. For young kids, incorporate dolls of all colors into their toy box. Read books with diverse characters. Throw movies with positive Black protagonists into the family night mix. For older kids, teach them how to source their information, fact-check and find primary sources when they are on the internet. Disseminate what you have learned and encourage questions.
Speak out to your family and friends
You know that person in your family, the one that always says something problematic. You don’t say anything to them because it’s not your place or you know they are never going to change or you don’t know enough about the situation. But you know what they said was wrong. When your kids see you say nothing, they see you accepting those thoughts and words. They learn that — while it might not be OK — those words are acceptable to say. When they see you talk back, they realize it’s OK to speak out even when it creates tension. When they see you say something, they follow your lead.
*A Cleveland version of this article was first posted on CLEBaby’s blog in August 2020.
Aja Hannah is a writer, traveler, and mama. She believes in the Oxford comma, cheap flights, and a daily dose of chocolate.