Four Family Centered Collective Actions Your Family Can Take For Black Lives Matter (and Four Others You Shouldn't)


IMG_0068_(1).JPGFollowing the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille, Showing Up For Racial Justice Families heard from countless parents across the country who are ready to take action to ensure that Black Lives Matter. Many families are also looking to find, build or strengthen local anti-racist communities.

Photo by Chris Crass

Below are four family collective centered actions you can organize on your own, with a few friends, or a larger parent group. These actions can be a one time occurrence or leveraged as an opportunity to bring together likeminded families and create an ongoing racial justice community. (Hint: to start a mini movement, just set a date for a next event and ask for a few volunteers to help plan it, and/or, set a monthly time to get together).

Join the conversation about racial justice with other parents and caregivers on the Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) Families Facebook page.

Note that many of these ideas can also be used by local SURJ chapter and affiliate organizations to encourage family participation.

Action ideas: (Click on the title for more info about each action.)

  • Caregiver Vigil: Parents, caregivers, their loved ones, and community gather for a vigil focusing on solidarity with families of color.

  • Racial Justice Storytime: Parents, kids, and their community to come together and talk about Black Lives Matter and other racial justice issues through stories and play. 

  • Family Friendly Direct Action: Families can lead the way in these all-ages actions.
  • “Act In” Where You Are: Tips for finding allies where you are and working on systemic racism in your school, library, congregation or other community space.

When organizing one of these awesome actions (or an action of your own creation!), here are four potential missteps to avoid:

  • Don’t use narratives of “there is only one race,” “kids don't see color (1),” or “unity”. These words erase the realities of racism, and frankly are not true. Instead, boldly name race: “White families say Black Lives Matter!” Here’s a fun explanation of why race neutral narratives uphold racism.

  • Help your community avoid the trap of “celebrating diversity” as a way to sidestep “undoing racism.” As you are finding your first allies, making an affirmation that Black Lives Matter can help ground your community. Soft pedaling this will set a shaky foundation. 
  • Do not propose solutions to issues impacting Black communities or any people of color to elected officials, police leadership, or other decision makers. White folks do not see the full picture of racism and inserting ourselves in these conversations undermines Black organizing. If you are engaging with these groups in any ways, look to the leadership of Black organizing to set the policy agenda and echo their approaches and demands.
  • If you are a part of an exclusive education community (ie private schools, co-op preschools, independent schools, charter schools, homeschooling community, etc), focus on helping white families in our community to dismantle our own racism. Avoid the temptation to recruit more diverse families to your community and see that as a solution to racism.

Thank you to Shannon Cofrin-Gaggero, Julia Hope, Miriam Medow, Meredith Martin-Moats, Coleen Murphy, Cayce Utley, Zoë Williams, Julie Roberts-Phung and many more in the Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Families Facebook community for your contributions to this toolkit & this work.

(1) We are intentionally not using the term "colorblind language" since it's ableist language.

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