Help! My White Partner Needs To Start Their Anti-Racism Journey

How should I approach it?

In partnership with

Hello friends,

Here’s another question that came up a while back in a discussion group I was facilitating: how can I encourage my white partner to start their anti-racism journey for the sake of our Black children?

This is an interesting one to consider, as I have a white partner myself, and we met and married long before I was doing this work. At the time I shared some of the experiences I’d had - experiences that had until then been outside his awareness.

Luckily, he was open to learning and understanding, and since we have a dual-heritage daughter, he’s invested in continuing to do so. We’ve had even more discussions since I launched this newsletter and published my book. So for him, most of the work has happened through conversation.

In my case, we’ve had a couple of decades to increase our mutual understanding, but what if you’re at the start of that journey?

To my mind, there are two possible scenarios.

First, where the partner in question is unaware that anti-racism education is needed. Second, where the partner is willing but unsure.

Where to Start if Your Partner Is Unaware

In the first case, it may be a case of knowing what will resonate with your partner. Are they likely to be moved by stories of Black experiences so they know what your kids will experience? Or would they prefer hard data about what happens to Black kids in schools and other official systems?

Depending on the answer, you may want to provide them with books or news clippings to make the case for why this is even necessary, and you can seed in some of the experiences your kids have already had, because if they’re over the age of 7, say, they’ve likely already experienced racism. If your partner wants to be a good and understanding parent, this may help.

Where to Start if Your Partner Is Willing But Uncertain

The second situation is more of a journey. Many people find that hearing Black stories is a good way to understand the scale of the issue and why it matters. So books like I’m Tired of Racism and similar may help open the door, with bite-sized introductions to Black experiences.

Once your partner has got over the “OMG, I had no idea” stage, then it’s time to move onto something else: like books by Renee Eddo-Lodge, Ijeoma Uluo, Afua Hirsch or Ibram X Kendi - these go deeper into some of the nuances. Check out some of the books on this list to get started. And of course, there’s the reviews section of this newsletter.



Watch media that’s outside your experience with Black directors and a majority Black cast. I don’t personally go for the comic portrayals (some do) but there are plenty of movies that cover Black experiences in a very real way.



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From Consumption to Action

Consuming information is only the start, of course, and means very little without action. What this action looks like depends on your family dynamics.

It likely means being aware your kids are having a different experience from the one you had or took for granted, and allowing them to share that with you without judgement and with your full support.

And it may well mean having to advocate for them in systems that discriminate against them, and even working to get those systems changed in your local area, community or school.

As with any parenting, your kids will let you know what they need (either directly or indirectly) and this will point you in the direction you should go.

Good luck!

Sharon

P.S. If you’ve faced this situation yourself, how did you handle it? What resources were most helpful?

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I am an anti-racism educator and activist, Co-Founder of Mission Equality, the author of “I’m Tired of Racism”, and co-host of The Introvert Sisters podcast.

© Sharon Hurley Hall, 2024. All Rights Reserved. This newsletter is published on beehiiv (affiliate link).

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