Inspired by Reddit co-founder, parents model anti-racist behavior for the next generation
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It is said that once you've seen something, you can't unsee it. This is exactly what is happening in America right now. We have collectively watched the pot of racial tension boil over after years of looking the other way, insisting that hot water doesn't exist, pretending not to notice the smoke billowing out from every direction.

Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away—it prolongs resolution. There's a whole lot of harm to be remedied and damage to be repaired as a result of racial injustice, and it's up to all of us to figure out how to do that. Parents, in particular, are recognizing the importance of raising anti-racist children; if we are unable to completely eradicate racism, maybe the next generation will.

How can parents ensure that the next generation will actively refuse to perpetuate systems and behaviors embedded in racism? The most obvious answer is to model it. Take for example, professional tennis player Serena Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.


Ohanian, who is white, recently stepped down from his position at Reddit and asked the board to replace him with a person of color, calling the lack of people of color in positions of power an "unacceptable gap." He stated on Twitter that he wants to be able to face his daughter if she asks one day "What did YOU do?"

His decision to step down arrives at a time when the United States is witnessing widespread protests against racism and police brutality after an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, died at the hands of the police. On his personal website Ohanian wrote, "I believe resignation can actually be an act of leadership from people in power right now. To everyone fighting to fix our broken nation: do not stop."

Ohanian's actions are admirable, but his position isn't a common one. Most parents don't have a job that they can step away from without causing their families serious financial problems. There are, however, plenty of other ways to model anti-racist behavior.

"...Parents have the responsibility to combat racism, bias, and discrimination, starting with the socialization of their own children," writes Dr. Jennifer E. Lansford, a Research Professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy and Faculty Fellow of the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University, in this article about how parents can work to fight racism. "A new approach is needed—one that does not burden parents of color as the only ones responsible for the racial-ethnic socialization of their children."

But what kind of new approach?

First and most importantly, parents can register to vote and bring their child(ren) along when casting their ballot. It's important for kids to see the democratic process, and discussing why participation in that process is an honor and a privilege increases the likelihood that children will exercise their future right to vote.

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Additionally, parents have to be willing to get creative and think outside the box. This resource guide is a great place to start. Simple things like adding new podcasts into the rotation or expanding your family's library of books can make a huge difference in how our children view the world. The point is to be informed and intentional.

Seeking out diversity, talking about race from an early age, celebrating our differences, even making a point to give our kids toys that look different than them, are all small but easy things parents and caregivers can do to instill anti-racism.

Look around and think about what kind of environment you are creating for your children. Does everyone look the same? If so, whether you mean to or not, you're helping to create unconscious bias within your child. Our kids are watching, and they will model what we teach them.

Turn your everyday actions into acts of good at P&G Good Everyday.

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Heather Cox Richardson didn't set out to build a fan base when she started her daily "Letters from an American." The Harvard-educated political historian and Boston College professor had actually just been stung by a yellow-jacket as she was leaving on a trip from her home in Maine to teach in Boston last fall when she wrote her first post.

Since she's allergic to bees, she decided to stay put and see how badly her body would react. With some extra time on her hands, she decided to write something on her long-neglected Facebook page. It was September of 2019, and Representative Adam Schiff had just sent a letter to the Director of National Intelligence stating that the House knew there was a whistleblower complaint, the DNI wasn't handing it over, and that wasn't legal.

"I recognized, because I'm a political historian, that this was the first time that a member of Congress had found a specific law that they were accusing a specific member of the executive branch of violating," Richardson told Bill Moyers in an interview in July. "So I thought, you know, I oughta put that down, 'cause this is a really important moment. If you knew what you were looking for, it was a big moment. So I wrote it down..."

By the time she got to Boston she has a deluge of questions from people about what she'd written.

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When I opened Twitter Saturday morning, I saw "Chris Evans" and "Captain America" trending. Evans is my favorite of the Marvel Chrises, so naturally I clicked to see what was happening with him—then quickly became confused. I saw people talking about "nude leaks," some remarks about (ahem) "size," and something about how he'd accidentally leaked naked photos of himself. But as I scrolled through the feed (not looking for the pics, just trying to figure out what happened) the only photos I saw were of him and his dog, occasionally sprinkled with handsome photos of him fully clothed.

Here's what had happened. Evans apparently had shared a video in his Instagram stories that somehow ended with an image of his camera roll. Among the tiled photos was a picture of a penis. No idea if it was his and really don't care. Clearly, it wasn't intentional and it appears the IG story was quickly taken down.

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Harvard historian Donald Yacovone didn't set out to write the book he's writing. His plan was to write about the legacy of the antislavery movement and the rise of the Civil Rights era, but as he delved into his research, he ran into something that changed the focus of his book completely: Old school history textbooks.

Now the working title of his book is: "Teaching White Supremacy: The Textbook Battle Over Race in American History."

The first book that caught his attention was an 1832 textbook written Noah Webster—as in Merriam-Webster's Dictionary—called "History of the United States." Yacovone, a 2013 recipient of Harvard's W.E.B. Du Bois medal—the university's highest award for African American studies—told the Harvard Gazette about his discovery:

"In Webster's book there was next to nothing about the institution of slavery, despite the fact that it was a central American institution. There were no African Americans ever mentioned. When Webster wrote about Africans, it was extremely derogatory, which was shocking because those comments were in a textbook. What I realized from his book, and from the subsequent ones, was how they defined 'American' as white and only as white. Anything that was less than an Anglo Saxon was not a true American. The further along I got in this process, the more intensely this sentiment came out. I realized that I was looking at, there's no other word for it, white supremacy. I came across one textbook that declared on its first page, 'This is the White Man's History.' At that point, you had to be a dunce not to see what these books were teaching."

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