Toilet paper shortages. In our series addressing the importance of talking to our children about godly interactions across racial and multi-cultural lines all I can think about are toilet paper shortages. Actually, these shortages are why we need to put in the work to change our own hearts, minds, and actions surrounding race, racial bias, and white privilege. Actions speak louder than words, and most of us just spoke volumes to our kids about our understanding of our white privilege, whether we meant to or not.
Most of my peers who are white, middle-class, planted in communities with a multitude of stores, with bank accounts and income streams that are not in jeopardy, in the face of a community crisis, went out and bought more than we needed – in many cases way more than we needed.
We didn’t do it maliciously. We were being cautious, following the rules, functioning in our default majority culture mode – which is to assume that everyone has equal access to toilet paper and if we happen to get to the store before someone else and buy extra, well – that’s not our problem. Obviously, I’m oversimplifying to make a point, but do you see what I’m getting at?
Toilet paper shortages reveal on a small scale, what my white peers and I are wrestling with on a larger scale. Most of us didn’t pause to consider our perpetual place at the front of every line in America. Whether it’s access to education, housing, credit, clean air and water, just and fair law enforcement policies, or toilet paper – most of us take what we want, when we want it, without considering who might be behind us in line.
These ingrained patterns of living reveal themselves to me on a daily basis in full display to my children. As I begin to understand these patterns more and more, it’s so important I share this imperfect journey with my children. It’s important for them to see me course correcting as I go along, putting myself under better teachers, and admitting where I’ve made mistakes.
It can be hard as parents to admit to our children that we haven’t done something well, or to recognize in the middle of life, as I did, that I was leaving a wake behind me that injured others and it was called white privilege. It’s humbling to have your children recognize a bias or prejudice in you and to let them correct you. It’s time consuming to try and see how my majority status influences my choices and to let my kids see me wrestling and often failing to fully unravel it.
What a gift we can give our children though if we will submit to this hard work. I’m happy to share practical steps if you aren’t sure what to do next. For me, it’s meant simply following the trail the Navigator diversity training started for us. I read the next book someone mentioned, and then followed that author on Instagram who introduced me to another author and I’m still learning – and messing up.
My prayer is that our children see us “failing forward” as we chase Jesus and His kingdom. May they remember our earnestness and our struggle against sin in all its forms and structures, and may they surpass us in good works that produce good fruit for Jesus Christ.
*Didn’t get the chance to participate in the cultural development training the first time around? Follow this link and log in with your NavOffice credentials to learn at your own pace.*