Raising Children in a Racially Unjust America

So that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. —Ephesians 3:10

Prior to the racial justice uprising this summer, a group at my church read Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey. I am learning that, by default, many of us who are white are raised to be colorblind. We are told to not notice differences. “Oh, we’re all the same on the inside,” white children hear from adults, in books, and in movies. This attitude is not compassionate. Racism thrives when white people do not address it in their families and communities.

God’s purpose as expressed in Ephesians 3:7–13 is unity and harmony in the universe: “the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (v. 10). I cannot participate in this work without knowing my own white privilege. I cannot raise children who understand their role in bringing about justice unless I talk with them about racism early and often in age-appropriate ways.

When I feel as if the work of expressing “the wisdom of God in its rich variety” is insurmountable when it comes to racism, I try to remember that I can approach God in “boldness and confidence" (v. 12). I also remember that people of color lack the option of avoiding hard conversations about racism with their children. I will do my best to converse with my children for my sake, their sake, and the sake of compassion. —Anna Groff

 First published in Rejoice!, Mennomedia, 2020, https://store.mennomedia.org/Rejoice-C1272.aspx