This past weekend I moderated a panel at the 4Trimesters.org conference on Raising Socially Conscious Children. There were three women on the panel, and all had amazing insights, examples, and ways that they are raising their children to be more socially aware.
I marvelled at all of the panelists, and many times felt small in comparison.
Because while it seemed they are doing big things, like reading about residential schools and talking about disability, I have been focused on making sure my child loves who she is in the world, as a brown girl. It’s been two years already of hearing about how she hates her hair and, recently, wishes her skin was lighter. Those are the conversations that happen in my house most often. I am working on building resilience and protecting self-esteem. And, in the moment it felt less significant by comparison.
The discussion made clear the very different ways we move through the world, and what is at the forefront of our minds as a result. In areas where we have privilege, social consciousness means teaching about someone else’s reality. In areas where we are marginalized, social consciousness means learning to navigate one’s own reality.
This is true for parents teaching children, and for people learning to support inclusion at work, at home, in their community.
All sides are important in this work, and awareness is a crucial foundation.
Awareness of the places and ways we have access and move through our days with relative ease; of the places we encounter barriers and have to jump over or navigate around hurdles to our success; and of how these manifest for others.
I saw a quote the other day – Never compare your inside, to the outside of someone else. And now I understand what it means.
It was easy to feel like I wasn’t doing enough, in comparison to the stories I was hearing. But then I remembered that our lives are all different, and what we focus on, what’s pressing for us, and how we address those things will look different as a result.
The important thing is that together, we are creating a jigsaw puzzle of social justice – as we teach our children, educate ourselves, and help raise awareness among peers – that hopefully, will create a better world for the children in our care.