June 12th is Loving Day

This year’s Loving Day (2017) marks the 50th anniversary of the1967 United States Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia which struck down all anti-miscegenation laws remaining in sixteen U.S. states. Learn more at LovingDay.org.

What has changed in 50 years?

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, in 2015, 17% –one in six– of all U.S. newlyweds had a spouse of a different ethnicity, marking more than a fivefold increase since 1967, when 3% of newlyweds were intermarried.

In observance of Loving Day,  Nathan I connected with Brett & Anjelica to candidly talk about marriage, family, and life in 2017. Though we have never met in person and are on opposite coasts (USA), we discover that we have a lot in common. This was fun!

 

Brownicity 2016 Highlights

Brownicity 2016 Highlights

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We entered 2016 knowing that we were to continue to disrupt the race narrative and send a dismantling ripple effect to expose the racial legacy of lies and injustice. Without knowing exactly how we would do this, we aligned with the disruption!

2016 seems to have been the year to shape and catapult us into who we are becoming. 2016 invited us into spaces where families gathered — homes, retreats, churches, schools — where moms and grandmothers were asking “how do we raise our children to do better than we did?” — where caring folks wanted to address race, but didn’t know quite how to do it well — where people wanted understanding — where the sincere concern was for the children.

In these spaces, we were able to foster liberation and healing for those who wanted to move forward with a renewed mind. Here are a few highlights!


WINTER

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Children aren’t afraid to talk about skin tone…Why are their parents?


The Annual Montreat Family Retreat by First Presbyterian Church of Lincolnton, NC 

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I’m Not Racist…Am I? review & reflections

Moms’ field trip

with Andre Robert Lee, film maker
with Andre Robert Lee, film maker

SPRING

Pioneer Springs Community School (CLT) Holistic Tea/Discussion. Mom’s don’t want to be told not to talk about race. Turns out, they want to empower children to be conscious, caring and courageous.

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Introducing our 21-Day Race Ideology Detox!

A traditionally White Southern Baptist church and an AME Zion church came together to learn and detox. 

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National Nanny Training Day Conference: When children have questions about skin tone, how will you respond?

And yes, nannies want in on the conversation, as well. 

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#WOKE

Mom’s are expanding the message into their art.


SUMMER

Hair is not a race! Hair is not ethnic!

To celebrate Loving Day, we decided to break a few beauty barriers. 

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Cornerstone Family Church, Des Moines, IA.

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icuTalks inaugural annual conference break-out session 

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Race: Are We So Different? FIELD TRIP

Family field trip

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What are kids learning… when we are not teaching…?

A Professional Development session for teachers and staff at a local charter school. 


Mosaic Church Charlotte ‘Stay and Play Date’ with moms and their precious littles.

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FALL

 

‘What LIES Between Us’ — What Does Love Sound Like?

Fostering self-reflection, introspection and healing as we address the lies that race/ism has told us about each other.

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Two Weeks!

A collaboration with icuTalks following the shooting death of Keith Lamont Scott, by CMPD and subsequent protests.


The team is growing and gearing up to make more righteous noise in 2017.

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Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Overt Racism—The new normal school day?

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2016 let us know that what we initially thought would be a casual conversation between friends, a resonating tribe vibe, is actually the righteous declaration of an identity reformation! 2016 told us that empowering the children is systemic change! 2016 sharpened us for the work of 2017 and beyond. We are looking forward to more!! You are welcome to join us. (Subscribe or email)

“I can swim” Thank you, Simone Manuel!

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by Lucretia Carter Berry

When Simone Manuel won, I heard the beautiful sound of false beliefs being flushed down the drain. I love that sound! And with that sound, more and more the asinine belief system established by race ideology loses it grip. Olympians are made when talent, hard work, perseverance, opportunity and support align. The race caste system has stolen opportunity and support from many people thereby creating a ripple effect of more false beliefs resulting in more lives stolen. But humanity is resilient!

When Simone Manuel won, I felt the death of that conversation I’d had countless summers as an adult. It goes something like this:

Them:  Can you swim?

Me: Yes

Them: Really? Are you sure?

Me: Yes

Them: I thought black women don’t swim. (Or something like that. Some don’t actually say it, but their faces show that they are thinking it.)

I want to answer with this, “It’s not that we don’t…It’s just that for so long we were denied the opportunity and forced to live in places with no pools, and…” But usually, there’s no time for an extensive education on how the race caste system has stolen, killed and destroyed so much for so many. And frustrated that my ‘yes’ is not enough, that my ‘yes’ seems weak against the hard wiring of mis-information and false beliefs, I gently respond, “I grew up with a pool in my yard.

I know that telling them that I grew up with a pool in my yard, though true, makes space for more confusion, but at least it ends me feeling like I am on trial defending myself against their burden of stereotypes. Honestly, I am left a little beat up by their perspective, but simultaneously empowered by the expression of my truth! I can swim!

And there is always an awkward tension that I can’t interpret. Are they embarrassed by their assumption? Are they confused by my response? Are they rewiring their thinking—replacing old information with new revelation? I am always hopeful that they are rewiring—not just for their sakes but for the sake of humanity. If they are re-wiring, if change within is occurring, then the awkward conversation is worth it!

When Simone Manuel won, I felt the weight of that—the history of stolen lives, the burden of correcting false beliefs, that childhood memory of watching white families get out of the resort pool when my black family got in,  the ‘I can swim’ defense along with the emotional and psychological trauma, pain, strength, patience, embarrassment , awkwardness, and empowerment that come with it—LIFT AND BECOME A TRILLION TONS LIGHTER. I sensed a billion eyes opening and minds being set free. I heard the snap of shackles breaking!

When Simone Manuel won, EVERYONE WON! Congratulations!!

Race: Are We So Different? FIELD TRIP

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Join us for our FIRST field trip, Saturday, August 27! (We say first because we have already started planning more). For a limited engagement, the South Carolina State Museum is hosting the blockbuster exhibit, RACE ARE WE SO DIFFERENT?, a project of the American Anthropological Association and funded by the Ford Foundation & National Science Foundation.

As with all Brownicity events, this field trip is family friendly. So bring your kids!—but only if you want to.

We will carpool from Charlotte to Columbia, SC (or you can meet us at the museum), tour the exhibit, engage in a reflection and discussion session led by our own Brownicity leaders, and enjoy a meal together.
$10 per person includes museum admission and admission to the exhibit.

RSVP through the field trip announcement by Friday, August 19, so we can make group reservations and coordinate carpool.

If you have any questions, contact us through the field trip announcement

For Parents: 7 Steps Toward Healthy Race Conversations with Kids

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This article by Lucretia Carter Berry  was first featured earlier this year in For Every Mom, entitled Your Children See Color—and It’s Beautiful! Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Talk About It. We thought we’d feature it here as we’ve recently been inundated with questions about how to engage in change. These 7 steps are a good start.

Fear

I accidentally freaked out some of my white friends when I shared the article 7 Reasons Why ‘Colorblindness’ Contributes to Racism Instead of Solves It by Jon Greenberg on our facebook page.

I heard the panic in their private messages and conversations.

‘Wait! I thought being colorblind was good! Now its bad?”

“Well, some of my African-American friends called me colorblind as a compliment. They said I don’t see color. And that’s good. Right?”

“Oh crap! I’ve been telling my children to be colorblind! What do I do, now?”

Because it has been a popular and widely accepted approach for decades, no one should feel guilty for having succumb to the teachings of colorblind ideology—which in most part asserts that seeing color and/or addressing race issues is bad and racist. However, as the article pointed out, ‘colorblindness’ is problematic on multiple levels. (There is no need for me to reiterate, the article is available here).

After learning how the colorblind approach nullified her intentions to raise aware kids, my friend wanted to know what she should do.

“That article was full of DON’Ts,” she said. “I need some DOs. What should I be doing?”

She had a point. With the colorblind approach being so pervasive, we ought not think that folks will automatically know what to do when they learn the error of their ways. So here are some DO’s and a few resources that will get us much further in our pursuit for healing, justice, equality, unity and raising aware kids than the colorblind approach.  Let’s BRING COLOR BACK!

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1. START WITH THE TRUTH. Be honest. You DO see color in skin, hair, eyes, and other physical features like height, size, hair length, etc. It is ok to admit it. Your children are not afraid to talk about skin color and you don’t need to be shy about it either.

Just in our family of five, we have five different skin tones and hair textures. Our conversations include references to melanin, ancestral history, geographic origins, straight, wavy, and curly hair. 

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2. EMBRACE COLOR AS GOOD. There’s nothing wrong with color. There is no shame in color.

In our home, we surround our children with books, media and toys full of color. Also, dolls and action figures reflect many different skin tones. You and your children should access books and media in which people and children of color are central, leading dynamic characters, not only one-dimensional stereotypical characters.

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3. BECOME RACE LITERATE. It is much easier to navigate conversations about race when you have a concrete understanding of what it actually is. For most of us, we’ve inherited what we know about race from polarized opinions, divisive politics, colorblindness and an absence of inclusive representation in our school curriculum and media. Racism transcends acts of meanness and bigotry. So, informed conversations have to go deeper as well. Knowledge is power, so empower yourself. Take a class or a workshop. Read books. Subscribe to a few education websites and Facebook pages. Commit yourself to learning why and how race has become such an issue. Being educated about race, racism and its issues will allow you to get over the discomfort of talking about it and equip you to be a part of the solution of dismantling it.

Recently, our 8 year old was into the Who Is/Was? series. The books on Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr., to name a few, stirred her curiosity and desire to know more about race and racism. Teaching her about the history and legacy of racism does not make her racist, but gives her awareness, understanding, and permission to envision and create a better world.

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4. CONNECT TO OTHER PERSPECTIVES. Develop authentic meaningful relationships with people who’s ethnicity is different than your’s.  Be literal and intentional about eradicating the racial divide and living out change. Build relationships where your children see you caring for and respecting people of color. Community events, school, church, sports, and arts are great places to find common ground—especially child-related—and connect.      

Our children’s lives are richer today because of a woman from India who befriended me in graduate school. She wanted me, a black woman to spend more time with her family—which at that time included a white husband and their two small children—to combat the negative messages about black people that her children were receiving from their white teachers, in a predominantly white school, teaching from a ‘single story’ curriculum. A mom’s intentional connection blossomed into a life long friendship.

Wanting to build a relationship with someone because they are ethnically different than you might feel awkward and risky at first. But remember you probably have much more in common with them than racial divisiveness has allowed you to believe. Furthermore, the life long benefits exceed the initial discomfort and contribute to dismantling division. 

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5. BE CONSCIOUS OF RACIAL INJUSTICES AND DISPARITIES. Doing numbers 3 and 4 will help you be able to more clearly see the universal effects of racism and the role it plays in outcomes.  Be sensitive to this. Be open to hearing people’s experiences of race/racism—especially if these people are your friends. Such stories need to be heard, valued, and then addressed through love and compassion. 

Movies like Glory Road and Hairspray make good discussion prompts for children. The themes are upbeat and relatable—sports in one and music and dancing in the other. And the plot provides some historical context for talking about the legacy of injustice and disparities. 

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6. TALK ABOUT IT.  How can we solve a problem, if we can’t talk about it? Does not talking about cancer heal cancer? When we do steps 1-5, we are equipped and empowered to talk about it. There can be no more insecurity, guilt or shame when talking about something that is such a significant part of the American story. With children, the conversations should be age appropriate. But having informed conversations sets a good example.

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7. ACTIVELY ENGAGE IN DECONSTRUCTING AND DISMANTLING RACE. Remember that race and racism are man-made constructions—a false belief system. Moving forward with different hearts and minds, we can dismantle it.

Racism affects just about every aspect of our lives—education, heath care, housing, opportunities and the justice system. In order to heal and change our communities, we have to address racism outright.

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We encourage our children to move forward in the truth and envision a world where all this nonsense has been abolished. If we can dream it, with God, we can achieve it.

Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us,…(Eph 3:20).

Brownicity is our platform for engaging. You are welcome to join us on this journey.

Here are a few helpful resources for ‘bringing color back.’ More resources for helping you become race-literate are listed here. Also, stay connected to attend our classes and sessions. 

  1. Lee & Low Books is a multicultural children’s book publisher whose books emphasize the richness of today’s culture.
  2. Zinn Education Project
  3. Everyday Democracy: Ideas and Tools for Community Challenge
  4. Search your local area for initiatives that offer classes and sessions like Race Matters for Juvenile Justice and Brownicity: The Art & Beauty of Living & Loving Beyond Race.
  5. Raising Race Conscious Children, a resource to support adults who are trying to talk about race with young children.
  6. Raise Up Justice Diverse Books Starter Kit
  7. Be the Bridge to Racial Unity shares resources, vision and skills for racial unity

Resources

I’m Not Racist…Am I? review & reflections

by Lucretia Carter Berry

I’m Not Racist!…Am I? is a feature documentary about how this next generation is going to confront racism. The film’s unique focus on kids and family immediately grabbed our attention. So a few of us Brownicity moms moved heaven and earth to attend the screening at Trinity Episcopal School in Charlotte, NC.

With film maker, Andre Robert Lett
With film maker, Andre Robert Lee

Through the documentary, we followed twelve New York City teens on a year long journey getting to the heart of racism. We watched as these kids were challenged within themselves, their friendships and families. We watched as they had conversations that most adults are too afraid to have. We watched as these remarkable young people navigated through naiveté, guilt and a few tears to develop deeper bonds, a stronger resolve and a truer definition of racism.

Their collective navigation was made both complicated and beautiful by the mosaic of their individual stories. After the film, we moms talked about with whom of the twelve we most identified.

Personally, as a black woman, I could identify with Kahleek, who through involvement in the project, was relieved and excited to gain a framework and language for articulating how institutional and structural racism had played out in his life.

But as a mom, I was most impacted by Abby, who is multiethnic (bi-racial) like my children. Unlike our family, Abby’s parents had not talked about race with her. As Abby is empowered by her involvement in the project, we watch her have a weighty and convicting conversation with her father, telling him, “If we would have talked about it as a family, I would have been more comfortable.” Can you say ‘Brownicity Soap Box Moment?’

It is empowering to see and understand the forces in your life that work independently of your own abilities, talents, and will. It is even more empowering to be given the permission to deconstruct and dismantle these forces. Brownicity exists to help families do this.

Watching these kids take this journey will inspire adults to do the same. See the website for how to access I’m Not Racist!…Am I? This film is an invaluable tool for families and communities.

The film is part of a larger initiative – Deconstructing Race – developed by The Calhoun School to create a multimedia platform to get young people, their teachers and their families talking – and doing something – about structural systemic racism. (http://notracistmovie.com/)