It’s terrifying to even consider my son being perceived as a threat by the wrong person because of the color of his skin.
It breaks my heart to see how many black men and women have lost their lives simply because the person with gun had no regard for the life in front of them. Implicit bias is real. Systematic racism is real. A change is long overdue, and I am grateful that we are going through a transformation with people from all over the world rising up to their feet to say “Enough!”
The rest of us not marching, we still have a crucial role to play if we want to dismantle racism and create a safer world for our children. It starts at home. We have to educate ourselves and our children about race and racism, create opportunities for dialogue rather than avoid the topic, and uplift those different from us as much as possible. To know better, is to do better.
My family and I moved from Iran to Sweden when I was 6 years old. I grew up in the suburbs surrounded by diversity. Immigrants in Sweden are initially placed in the same suburb while the native Swedes tend to own or rent property in the city. These suburbs weren’t the most desired from the perspective of Swedes.
I was surrounded by families from Somalia, Eritrea, Iraq, Iran, Bosnia (former Yugoslavia), Croatia, China, El Salvador, Chile, Poland, Pakistan, and so on and so forth. Contrary to the beliefs held by the native Swedes, growing up in this melting pot environment enriched my life and provided me with a keen awareness and insight into the rest of the world.
I had the opportunity to try exotic cuisines, pick up a few words from different languages, and learn about traditions from various cultures and countries. I feel so grateful to have had this experience because it provided me with an amazing well-rounded childhood and laid the foundation for who I am today. If I am able to recreate a tiny portion of this for my son, I would feel accomplished.
Creating opportunities for my son to interact with kids from different cultures helps him see beyond himself, and prepares him for the real world full of love, appreciation and understanding.
I encourage you to do the same. Look beyond your everyday comfort zone and see how you can create these opportunities for your family. Enrich your family’s life through diversity with books, movies, toys, play dates, museums, and workshops. Your children will forever be grateful to have started so young that it’s second nature by the time they’re adults navigating a very diverse world.
I moved to San Francisco after college because I love the diversity of this city and wanted to create a family in a place that embraces and celebrates people from all walks of life.
I placed Winston in a Spanish immersion preschool so he could learn a language beyond the Swedish and English that we speak at home. We’ve been so lucky to have met the most amazing families through our preschool that contribute to my son’s ability to form diverse worldviews. I encourage you to seek out similar opportunities either through a school, programs, or workshops, if that’s feasible for you.
We speak about racism at home and what to do if we or someone we know is exposed to it. Winston knows that if someone is using mean words, he will stop and go get mommy or daddy, or another adult. It’s important to teach our children to hold others accountable for their words. Children know when mean words are said. They feel uncomfortable and it’s important not to normalize the discomfort to the point that children become desensitized.
We read about people who have made significant marks on society, such as Martin Luther King Jr, Barack Obama, Sonia Sotomayor, Malala Yousafzai, and Rosa Parks.
These are some of the ways we are educating our family about race, racism, and diversity so we can contribute to a more inclusive, safe, and just world.
I have complied some resources below for a deeper exploration into the topic. I know some feel overwhelmed by the volume of information and advice coming your way, when your plate is already full with parenthood, a pandemic, and life in general, but these conversations with our children, and our own understanding of the Black American experience is imperative if we choose to continue living in America. Thank you for allowing me to share my story. I’d love to hear how you navigate these topics with your children. Please comment below or on the Saga Interiors Instagram!