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Monday, August 31, 2020

how we are teaching our toddler to be an ally

There are some events in life that you know change how you move forward in the world. George Floyd's unimaginable death was one of those events  During the days following his death, I laid awake at night thinking of George's family and of all of the other acts of violence and racism that led up to this moment. I closely followed the social media accounts of those I trusted and started following new accounts like @theconsciouskidlib and @rachelcargle. I was mad. I needed to channel my feelings into something positive. I needed guidance. I needed to know what to tell our toddler so that in her lifetime, there would be too many people on the side of good for this to happen again.  I needed to be an ally and I wanted to gather all the tools my husband and I needed to help our daughter use her voice and become an ally too.

Since the day Waverly was born, we have told her that she is loved beyond measure, that she is kind and loving, brave, tolerant and resilient.  Recently, though, I've come to believe that this isn't enough. It's too vague.  It isn't enough to be tolerant of others. Tolerance = quiet and complicit. To be a good citizen of this world, means being an active participant in the support of others. It's about being an anti-racist and an ally when you see injustice.

As I researched how to best educate Waverly (3 years-old), I realized that I needed to educate myself too. I started gathering lists of recommended books on racism for adults and for kids and I found two great bookstores, Ashay by the Bay and Mahogany Books (both Black-owned bookstores). I spoke with brilliant women who helped guide me in my choice of books, best appropriate to Waverly and I. They were back-ordered for awhile but they started arriving in a flutter over the last several weeks.

While Waverly naps, I read my books (I started with "So You Want to Talk About Race?") and then Waverly and I curl up in the sun together reading her books. We talk the beauty of Black hair and the multitudes of colors of skin and how we stand up for someone. We takes about countries and lovely melodious names. We talk about what it means to be an ally. The children's books are teaching me just as much as they are teaching her. 

Even though she is three years-old, I've loosely told her about George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor.  I don't think it's ever too early to help shape her future and how she treats others and stands up for her beliefs. 

At night before we go to sleep, we pray. Waverly has said their names, George, Ahmaud and Breonna as she prays to God. After our prayers and our songs, I tuck her into bed. Along with a stuffed dog that looks like our dog in heaven and a Virgin Mary soft doll, she holds tight to one of her dollies, including Gabrielle, a Black baby doll. I watch her as she closes her eyes and nestles into her baby and I know that Bob Marley was right. With love, every little thing's gonna be all right.

Our List of Books


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