White parent feeling frustrated that people don’t listen to each other
There’s a big difference between knowing about social justice and actually pushing it. That’s a lesson Michaela (23) heard loud and clear during a recent trip with her husband to visit the NAACP’s Philadelphia branch.
“It’s amazing to see in Philadelphia and the community that they’re making progress,” Michaela said.
Michaela traveled with her mother and four-year-old daughter to Pennsylvania after reading an article in the Injustice section of the Columbia Journal of Gender & Sexuality about how white people in the Injustice, Maryland, community could take action.
They found a chapter of the NAACP not only running workshops about fighting social injustice — particularly the epidemic of sexual assault in black communities, and more than twice as many black women as white women having their reproductive rights stripped away by politicians — but also offering real ways to fight the American epidemic of white supremacy.
“Because of the similarities, we felt like we’re in the same spot,” Michaela said.
White supremacy has been the core of the issue, and the only solution, of racism in the United States.
The Injustice chapter works to tackle institutional racism and classism in the community, including the high rate of teen pregnancy in the black community, and the high rate of minority youth in prison — and the fact that black and white children are disproportionately incarcerated on average.
“It’s really important for anyone to take part in bringing change,” White (33) said. “Through civil rights, we have a lot of racism, but we’re not bringing it down. We have to make it right and that’s why we’re proud to be part of this.”
Michaela and White share their time with six-year-old Maya (7) and Michaela’s five-year-old daughter Cadence (6), who attend a Quaker school that educates students in postcolonial and post-white supremacist movements.
Cadence has already been to see a homeless shelter and a military youth suicide prevention center, and likely sees racial injustice regularly in her local school. She is also reading about how to fight the Supreme Court’s Trinity Lutheran Church decision, a 5-4 decision in June that allowed Missouri to take about $4 million from the church to comply with an anti-discrimination law.
Michaela said she wants her children to stay open to differences and to not “take things for granted.”
“I want them to be independent thinkers,” she said. “I want them to be resilient — to be able to create change in the way that they relate to those with differing opinions, to those who come from different socioeconomic backgrounds.”
Michaela encouraged black and white students to create their own community groups. It’s a key part of the NAACP’s network, said Sister Bonnie Sullivan, a retired minister and president of the NAACP’s Injustice chapter in Montgomery County, Maryland.
“You need to be able to have a local presence on the ground because once you leave it’s harder to return,” she said.
Sullivan, who is white, also hopes to raise young people to challenge oppression through their work.
“We all are perpetrators,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what color you are.”
When Michaela and White return to California, they will be teaching a “countdown to liberty” lesson for their younger students. The group plans to discuss the respect between men and women — and what it takes to respect all people.
Last school year, the group took a field trip to South Carolina, where a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black man. It spurred white parents to a trip to the NAACP office to be educated about racial profiling and the social justice issues that are still riled.
As a civilian, White is concerned about the divide between people, but as a working parent, he’s frustrated that black and white Americans aren’t as connected as they could be.
“I think the fact that I’m a parent or a citizen, at least I can teach my kids better than anyone else can teach them,” he said.