White Supremacy in the United States

“What we wish we had known when we were new parents and educators”

“If you aren’t teaching your kid to be anti-racist,
you are teaching them to be racist.”

- Tabitha St. Bernard-Jacobs

Key Points

Some communities across the United States appear to be waking up to the systemic racial injustices experienced by BIPOC -- people of color, and especially black and indigenous people -- every day.

“The BIPOC Project aims to build authentic and lasting solidarity among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC), in order to undo Native invisibility, anti-Blackness, dismantle white supremacy and advance racial justice.”

- The BIPOC Project

There is currently a renewed hope that we can make generational change, starting with parents and teachers who influence the children they raise and educate. As adults move away -- consciously and intentionally -- from white supremacy, all children will be able to follow new examples.

Racist and punitive treatment of BIPOC children in schools and communities is well-studied and well-documented. Yet, it is still invisible to and denied by many white people across the nation.

“Today we specifically call on the white families in our community
to join us as we learn more, do better, and
follow the lead of people of color in this movement.”

- Dana Guy, Program for Early Parent Support (PEPS), Seattle, WA

What works

  • Recognizing the interlocking systems of white supremacy, racism, imperialism, capitalism, and patriarchy
  • Improvements in parent and teacher education about the histories and realities for BIPOC communities
  • Actively talking with children about privilege and racism simply, early, age-appropriately, and often
  • De-escalation training, anti-bias training
  • Getting involved with and funding anti-racism equity groups and movements
  • Demanding attention and accountability from elected officials on issues of justice
  • Unlearning false histories that reinforce white supremacist conditioning, attitudes, and beliefs
  • Breaking the cycle of multigenerational patterns, including blindness to white supremacy
  • Paying attention to police violence: witnessing, documenting, reporting, insisting upon change
  • Ending corporal punishment in homes and schools
  • Acknowledging that white fragility is effective in silencing dissent
  • Focusing on and valuing BIPOC voices and contributions to society such as literature, art, science politics, music
  • Socializing with BIPOCs, building intergroup relationships and connections
  • Shopping in other neighborhoods – exposing children to situations where they are not the majority race/culture/ language

“The journey to learning another person’s perspective,
especially when that person or population or community is disenfranchised, marginalized or oppressed,
is a lifelong journey.
Nobody’s good at it.”

- Jonathan Jackson, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School

What gets in the way

  • Systemic segregation:
    • many white children and their families have no black and no indigenous friends, neighbors, co-workers, nor teachers
    • many white children and their families do not even see black nor indigenous people in their everyday lives
  • Cultural beliefs and practices that encourage the perpetuation of white supremacy
  • Dominant narratives that normalize the Black/white binary
  • Ruptures that feel irreparable, not knowing where to start
  • Ignoring police violence, or dismissing or justifying police violence through demonizing the victim
  • Disproportionate “disciplining” of BIPOC children -- especially black and indigenous children -- in schools
  • Racial disparities for BIPOC children in arresting, detaining, charging more severely, sentencing, and trying as an adult
  • Belief that “genetics” predict childhood outcomes rather than prenatal and age 0 to 17 experiences
  • Adult perceptions that black children are more adult than white children, without reference to their individual behaviors
  • Stereotyping and sexualizing in media and entertainment
  • Anti-Blackness
  • Native Invisibility
  • Ignorance, fear, isolation, defensiveness

5 important WEBSITES






5 important ARTICLES

Dennis-Benn, Nicole, “Innocence Is a Privilege: Black Children Are Not Allowed to Be Innocent in America,” Electric Literature 2016

Dumas, Michael J. and Joseph Derrick Nelson, “(Re)Imagining Black Boyhood: Toward a Critical Framework for Educational Research,” Harvard Educational Review 2016

Epstein, Rebecca et al, “Girlhood Interrupted: The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood,” Georgetown Center on Poverty and Inequality

Gilliam, Walter S. et al, “Do Early Educators’ Implicit Biases Regarding Sex & Race Relate to Behavior Expectations & Recommendations of Preschool Expulsions & Suspensions?” [spoiler: YES], Yale University Child Study Center 2016

Parlakian, Rebecca, “Racism and Violence: Using Your Power as a Parent to Support Children Aged Two to Five,” ZeroToThree.org 2017

“...adults view Black girls as less innocent and more adult-like than their white peers,
especially in the age range of 5–14”

- Rebecca Epstein, “Girlhood Interrupted, The Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood”

5 important VIDEOS found on YouTube

“A Conversation with K. Kamau Bell, Host of CNN’s ‘United Shades of America” Humility and Conviction in Modern Life 2019

“Angela Davis: How Does Change Happen?” University of California Television UCTV 2008

“bell hooks: Cultural Criticism & Transformation,” ChallengingMedia / MediaEd.org 2006

“Cornel West and Richard Wolff talk about Capitalism and White Supremacy,” The Laura Flanders Show 2015

“Racism in the United States: By the Numbers,” VlogBrothers 2014

“Don’t feel bad if you don’t know things.
Just feel bad if you know things
and then don’t do anything about it.”

- W. Kamau Bell

5 important BOOKS

Celano, Marianne et al, Something Happened in Our Town, Magination Press 2018

Higginbotham, Anastasia, Not My Idea: A Book about Whiteness (Ordinary Terrible Things), Dottir Press 2018

Thomas, Pat, The Skin I’m In: A First Look at Racism, B.E.S. 2003

Ramsey, Calvin et al, Ruth and the Green Book, Carolrhoda Books, 2010

Pinkney, Angela Davis, Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, Little Brown Books for Young Readers 2010

“Black girls represent 31% of girls referred to law enforcement by school officials
and 43% of those arrested on school grounds,
yet only constitute 17% of the overall student population.”

- National Women’s Law Center & NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund

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