If you’ve not seen any of the recent interviews/articles with Dr. Hagerman, check out yesterday’s LA Times piece. Here Hagerman writes that “Parents [in the study] felt caught in a conundrum of privilege — that there was an unavoidable conflict between being a good parent and being a good citizen. These two principles don’t have to be in tension, of course. Many parents, in fact, expressed a desire to have their ideals and parenting choices align. In spite of that sentiment, when it came to their own children, the common refrain I heard was, ‘I care about social justice, but — I don’t want my kid to be a guinea pig.’”
Yep, we’ve heard that refrain, too. This is the smog that we are breathing. I don’t want my kid to be a guinea pig, I can’t sacrifice my child on the altar of social justice, But, but, but test scores, I just want a STEM/ arts/ progressive/ (whatever) program, I’m worried about safety, No one I know goes to that school, I really just don’t like uniforms. I really just want a school with uniforms. It’s important to me to send my kid to a school with lots of parent engagement. Etc etc etc. The stories white/privileged families tell are the same across the country…
“If affluent, white parents hope to raise children who reject racial inequality,” Hagerman goes on to say, “simply explaining that fairness and social justice are important values won’t do the trick. Instead, parents need to confront how their own decisions and behaviors reproduce patterns of privilege… If progressive white parents are truly committed to the values they profess, they ought to consider how helping one’s own child get ahead in society may not be as big a gift as helping create a more just society for them to live in in the future.”
Yes. Maybe the “best” that we can give our kids is not a white/privileged bubble. Maybe there are trade-offs (which we are all used to, because …parenting, relationships, work, life!) and still it boils down to priorities. As parents, our choices for our own kids affect other kids. And as parents, what we show and what we DO (and, indeed, where we send our babies to school) tell our kids much more than what we say.