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Talking to your Kids about White Privilege

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I am white. They say that the definition of being white is never having to think about it. Touché. When I take my daughter to a movie, grab a toy at Target, or pick up a book, I never worry whether her race or perspective will be represented. I don’t check the box to see if any of the little girls look like her. When I borrow books – stories of heroines and adventures – I never fear that she will feel excluded from the strengths and opportunities of the lead character. I benefit from the assumption that her race will always be represented, that she will always feel included in the American Dream. This is an example of White Privilege, and it’s past time that we talk to our children about it.

The problem, I suppose, is that many parents are scared. It’s hard to decide where or when to begin. It is even harder to know what to say once you start. In fact, most parents say nothing, assuming that if they are silent, their children will come to believe that race is unimportant. But as long as people’s skin color is associated with access to resources, social rewards, and the power to shape norms and values, race matters. The research tells us, and the testimony of heartbreak emphasizes, that we have to put aside sanguine “color-blind” language and talk to our kids about tough stuff. The American Journal of Sociology reports that it is actually the children of parents who talk to their kids about race that are less likely to make assumptions about others based on skin color. Privilege matters, and if we never show our white kids how to identify it and take it seriously, they will never change it. Was it Spiderman who taught us that with great privilege comes great responsibility?

I made an easy little conversation primer for talking to your kiddos about race. If you sign up for my newsletter, you will get access to a download of it. It’s cute, you’ll like it (I actually think it would make a nice picture book). But in the meantime, help your kids notice the way our society systematically excludes their friends of color. Encourage empathy, encourage them to be better. Point out that all her princesses are white except for one. Ask her how that might make a her black friends feel. Next time you buy bandaids, point out that all the “flesh color” bandaids are actually just the color of her skin. “Gosh, thats silly. Half of us in this country are dark or brown, and yet there aren’t bandaids that match. Isn’t that sad?” See if she can find a greeting card with a black person on it. Check out books and movies with Latin or African American leads. Take your children to cross-racial churches, schools, parks.

Just jump in there. I certainly am, and I feel like I flop way more than I succeed, but I have to believe that I am communicating that I want the imbalance remedied. I love Motherlode’s account of this process. Hopefully, we are teaching our children how to notice. Model a just and fair attitude. Just the other day, I made a list of 15 super cute books from @hereweeread and @afrobookworm’s feeds that featured kids with black or brown skin color. My library co-op had 2. I was disappointed, I asked to speak with the head librarian and we had a sincere talk about my concerns. Use your power. Too often, when black people complain about racial injustice, they are labelled and disregarded. As a white person, when you notice, say something, first to the people in charge, and then to your kids. Help them help others. Other AWESOME posts about this: HuffPo, OnBeing, AllParenting, 100 Race Conscious Things You Can Say to your Children

In what ways are you helping your kids notice privilege and be responsible? How are you dedicated to being vigilant for teachable moments? talking about white privilege

Donating your Breastmilk

Donating Breastmilk

For many women, breastfeeding is a sacrifice of love; it is hard, worrisome work, filled with wakeful nights pumping, running to and from the fridge at work, and wearing unflattering, easy access clothing. For others, the milk and the latch come easy. They don’t often worry about production levels, their babies always seem satisfied, and their freezers can end up full to over flowing in no time. Coupled with the major calorie-burning side effects of breastfeeding, these women might end up feeling like they could nurse forever – if only they had a reason.

I have that reason: Milk Banking!

mothers milk bank

There are 22 milk banks in the US right now, and 159 in Europe. These banks provide life giving support for infants in intensive care who’s mothers are unable or unavailable. If you, mama dearest, are able and available – I want to send out a massive encouragement to donate, donate, donate! My experience was easy and rewarding. If you are reading this post, hopefully there is a piece of you that is curious and might be persuaded toward generosity with your supply. With any luck, I can answer some questions because your milk CAN SAVE LIVES.

Why Milk?

Human milk is an incredible, custom made, life-giving meal for infants. A mother’s milk provides all of the essential’s a baby needs to thrive, plus  immune building antibodies that actively fight disease and allergies. Human milk is especially important for premature infants or sick babies, who are who are “at 10 times the risk for devastating intestinal infections if they are fed formula instead of human milk (mmbal.com).” When human milk isn’t available, milk banks provide your hospital’s NICU with clean breastmilk generously given by screened donors so that that baby can continue to live.

I am one such donor. It has been my privilege and my honor to give 187 ounces so far.

Milk Banks are usually non-profits that screen, collect, process, and distribute excess human breastmilk to at-risk, or very very ill newborn infants. These infants are suffering to survive: serious premature birth, renal failure, intestinal disease, errors of metabolism, serious allergies, formula intolerance, immunologic deficiencies, and failure to thrive.

Milk Banks are certified and regulated entities through the Human Milk Banking Association of North America (HMBANA) and they take screening very seriously.

If you would like to donate and you live in Alabama –

Contact Katherine Wood at 205-942-8911 x 117 or email her at kwood@mmbal.org.

I contacted Katherine when I was about 3 months postpartum. My supply was ample, my freezer was getting full, and Frank had dropped a feeding in the middle of the night. I heard of the Milk Bank through my precious pediatrician and created the tentative plan to continue waking to pump at the 3 am feed Frank dropped, along with any other feedings he missed. I usually could get 5-10 ounces at a time. If I kept at it, I would have enough to make a decent donation in a couple of months!

basket of breastmilk

Ms. Wood called me back promptly. She was kind, excited, grateful, but very thorough. She asked me 20-30 questions, felt confident that I could donate, and sent me a information packet, consent forms, forms to sign, and an order for blood work. I completed the packet and the blood draw – which was just a vial or two – no problem. When I was confident and ready to donate, Ms. Wood sent me a prepaid box in which I would put my donation, along with some dry-ice, and send back at my convenience. She even had it arranged so that Fed-Ex came and picked up the box at my beckoning!

breastmilk package

The whole process was easy peasy and if my supply had remained ample, I would have continued to donate much much longer. Unfortunately, I had some complications with Frank’s health, my work, and yadda yadda, so continued donation wasn’t possible. This was actually a point of heart break for me because well, the Milk Bank is a great cause and a real opportunity for you to really save some lives and make a huge difference in a premies life. I hope I have convinced you!

Happy Donating!!!