Black Lives Matter to US

By Melissa

We have taken a bit of a hiatus here on the blog. Our nation has reeled from the outrage of mistreatment of the Black community, and we have been trying to take it all in. As we break our silence, we wanted to to make it crystal clear that we have not been ignorant to or okay with what is going on around us. We have been shocked and sickened as we’ve absorbed copious amounts of information about the mistreatment of fellow humans, just because of the color of their skin. And we are taking a stand. Here are a few ways we have chosen to make a difference in our lives, hopefully you can do the same. And with these small measures, we can make big strides.

Diversifying our Exposure

There are so so SO many inspiring people, accounts, blogs and stories out in internet land. We have made a conscious effort to seek out accounts that uplift and inspire us AND are written or created by people of color. These Black content creators work hard and we want to support them and help them expand their reach.

To help with this, we have decided that once a week (I’m thinking maybe on Saturday or Sunday because you know how I love alliteration), we will feature another account or two. They might be accounts about finances, perhaps more design or lifestyle, shops owned by Black entrepreneurs, or there’s even a Black florist in LA that is killing me softly with her amazing blooms. I’m sure you will love and appreciate these creators and what they have to offer. I’m so excited to start our Sunday Share Session (or something like that)!

We firmly believe that when we diversify our norm (meaning what we constantly see in our feed), it can help undo cultural or racial biases that we may have developed in our lives.

Normalizing Differences for our Kids

This is HUGE for us. We are blessed to have friends that are a mixed-race family and have learned a ton from them over the years about how to embrace differences and celebrate them. We already owned a handful of books that exposed our kids to different races and ethnicities, but we have found a few other things that are helpful too.

I got Maren this activity/coloring book, with princesses that are Black. She has like twenty other coloring books with princesses, Disney characters, animals, unicorns, etc, but had nothing that really showcased diversity. So this is a good start! And to go along with that, I also ordered these skin tone markers. That way she can better color her princesses and isn’t limited to “peach” or “brown” skin, and that’s it. So far she has loved them both, and I love seeing her create dresses and hairstyles for these cute princesses.

In addition to coloring, we talk, talk and TALK about differences! I used to think that I should use the “colorblind” approach with races, but have since learned that even when nothing negative is said about different skin tones, kids will eventually perceive the differences as bad since it isn’t addressed. So what do we do? We emphasize that our differences are amazing and celebrate the diverse cultures, talents and strengths of our friends and neighbors who have different skin than we do. We don’t shy away from hard topics like racism or mistreatment of others. Why? Because we are trying to teach our kids that what is and has been happening is NOT okay, and that we need to be ready. Ready to speak up in difficult situations and ready to be kind even when it is uncomfortable.

Obviously our two littlest kids don’t get it, but our 6 year old does. Her best friend at school this year was a sweet little girl who is Black and when Maren realized that people would be mean to her just because of her skin, or that her family didn’t have the opportunities that we did because of their race, it broke her heart. Kids are perceptive and they love fiercely, it is never too early to talk to them about differences in a positive light.

Here are a few of the books we already had: We Are Different, We Are the Same (Sesame Street characters talking about differences and celebrating them), Love Is (doesn’t talk about diversity, just about loving others, but the illustrations are of the most beautiful Black girl), and the Once Upon a World box set (classic fairy tales but with girls from other cultures as the main characters, instead of blonde girls). And I just ordered You Matter because I’ve been following the author and artist on Instagram and he creates the most beautiful stories.

Educating Ourselves

It has been a long and reflective month. We have listened to hours and hours of podcasts. We’ve read dozens of articles. Countless videos and documentaries have been watched. Books have been ordered or requested and we are trying to make our way through them. There is just. so. much. information. But it is for such a good reason. We feel grateful that we have the opportunity to learn these things and are trying to use our voices for positive change. We have emailed local politicians and donated to causes we believe in. And we will keep going. The inequalities we’ve seen break our hearts, and we feel it necessary to buoy up the Black community after centuries of systemic racism have pushed them down.

We learned about and discussed Juneteenth after listening to First Name Basis Podcast and even had a friend deliver treats for it!

A few of the sources we’ve learned so much from are the following:

  • First Name Basis Podcast – Jasmine Bradshaw is doing God’s work. She is Black biracial and speaks so beautifully and thoughtfully about race, religion and culture. She also dives into how to teach our kids, giving us the tools we need to help explain difficult topics. Her podcasts are so well researched and so much heart goes into helping others. She really is a treasure trove of goodness. You can find her on Instagram @firstname.basis or on your podcasts app at First Name Basis Podcast. Or if you are dying to listen to it on the internet, go here!
  • Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It is a book that changed my life a couple years ago, and has recently been made into a movie. The book is autobiographical and tells the story of him representing inmates on death row who have been wrongly convicted or sentenced due to race. You can find the movie on Amazon and it is FREE to rent this month.
  • Thirteenth. A documentary on Netflix that discusses the Thirteenth Amendment and how it has affected Black Americans and the lack of progress they have been able to make due to systemic racism.
  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. I’m currently listening to this book and am about halfway through it. It focuses on “the war on drugs” that has actually become a war on Black people. The statistics are staggering. It has been so very eye-opening and insightful.

We have a ton of other books and resources that we are still trying to consume, these are just some that have been incredibly enlightening for us.

Supporting Black-owned businesses

This is something that I think is incredibly important as we move forward! I had mentioned content-creators earlier, but this is so meaningful to small businesses! I have been so impressed by a favorite blogger/podcaster Young House Love and how they have used their platform to showcase small businesses that are owned by people of color, and especially Black women! They have a whole blog post about it, and I have found a few shops and artists that I have already ordered from, and many more that I would like to shop from in the future! As we go through these we hope to highlight a lot of these businesses in our weekly sharing!

Wrap Up

There is still. so. much. to. do. We recognize that hundreds of years of oppression and missed opportunities cannot be undone overnight. Nor can it be undone by buying a few books, emailing a few politicians, or reading a few blogs. BUT! It is slow and steady progress! We stand firm in the fact that we need to provide equity to boost up the businesses and our Black community that has not had equal opportunities. We have so much hope for change in the near future. And this is us trying to do our part.

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