In this special series about Parenting and Race, we highlight the experience of what it’s like to raise kids of color in our society. The intention is to spark courageous conversations, encourage reflection, and provide guidance and support for talking to kids about race and racism at every age, so we can create more inclusive, tolerant, and socially just communities.

As an American woman who has ancestors that were slaves in the United States for more than 400 years, I often wonder why I still need to identify myself as Black American or African American, when I am simply American. I speak English, and my flag is the red, white, and blue of the United States. Yet, I am bound by the color of my skin. White privilege means being seen and seeing yourself as just American. Have you ever heard white people referred to as white Americans?

As an American, Black woman, and mother, I yearn to see positive changes in this country. I hope that my family will be treated equally, as guaranteed in the Constitution. I believe in a future justice system that is fair across color lines. All Americans contribute to the development and wealth of this country, and my children deserve to be protected, feel safe when walking down the street, and treated with the same dignity and respect afforded white human beings.

Historically, both Black and white people became orphans from Africa and Europe when they settled in America. Both communities lost connections with native languages, cultures, and religion through the “melting pot” assimilation process. Of course, there are stark differences contained in these histories as well. Black people were forced to come to America as slaves and free labor, while white people migrated for a better life and new trade opportunities.

I work hard as a mother to break the chains of violence and race-based hatred by educating my daughter and son about their heritage, by diversifying our network of friends and activities, and by living my family values of love, compassion, caring, understanding, and tolerance of others, no matter their race, creed, ethnicity, religion, or political beliefs. We are all one human race.

I invite all parents to stand together and teach our children about bias, to reach out across color lines, and to make every effort to break this cycle of racism and discrimination that continues to divide us. We will be stronger and more united as a result, paving a new path for our children and for generations to come.

Coalition of Black Excellence
KQED podcast Right Nowish
Poet Porche Kelly
Teaching About Race, Racism, and Police Violence
Self-Care and Systemic Injustice
Talking Race with Young Children (NPR)

Tiffany Lawless-Elsalaam is the Administrative Marketing Associate at JFCS’ Center for Children and Youth. Tiffany’s professional experience includes over fifteen years of advertising, marketing, human resources, administrative, and office management. Tiffany prides herself on making personal connections that result in long-lasting relationships. She loves empowering others through problem-solving and troubleshooting. Tiffany received her BA from San Francisco State University in Broadcast Communications, along with a certificate in Human Resources Management from San Francisco State University. She lives with her husband and daughter in Union City.

If you or your family need expert mental health support or parenting guidance during this challenging time, please contact us at the Center for Children and Youth or call 415-359-2443.

Read more articles in our Parenting and Race series