There's a good chance you've heard of “driving while black,” but have you or someone you love been caught “parenting while white”? If yes, a school located near Tacoma, Washington, may be in a position to assist.
A private college preparatory institution, Charles Wright Academy (CWA), was founded by a Christian. According to its website:
Sam and Nathalie Brown proposed the (1957) founding of a boys’ school to Bishop Stephen Bayne of the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, who gave the concept his blessing, and plans went forward. …
In September 1970, Charles Wright Academy admitted its first girls and has been co-ed ever since. The school maintains its historical ties to the Episcopal Church, but it does not teach a specific religious doctrine as part of the curriculum. The school is open and welcoming to families of all religious traditions as well as those with no religious affiliation.
The Academy, a school that covers children in pre-K all the way up to the 12th grade, outlines its values as follows:
To inspire active, joyful learning while nurturing and challenging our students to develop the character, creativity, and skills to successfully navigate the future with confidence.
In the spirit of challenge, the faith-related CWA recently held an event for parents.
As shown on Twitter, a handout for the school included the Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging activities scheduled for the fall of 2022. One of them was “The Importance of Discussing Social Identity with Your Kids.” It is possible that there was more to it:
Parenting While White
Wednesday, November 9, Upper School Commons, 5:30-7:30pm
Join our facilitator Dr. Elizabeth Denevi to discuss the importance of talking to white children about race. We will learn some strategies about how to do it, along with mistakes and lessons learned. The goal of these conversations is to create community and have a place where parents can ask important and challenging questions about navigating healthy identity development.
Light dinner provided.
In these days, whiteness is a major problem: “White Woman Who Lectures on Racism Says All White People Should Shut Up,” “Tufts University Hosts ‘Unpacking Whiteness’ Program, Declares the ‘Game Is Rigged’,” “Extremely White College Professor Fights the Lie—and ‘Disease’—of Whiteness,” “UC Berkeley Professor Told Students Abolishing Whiteness Means Wiping out White People.”
It is important to begin early: “Cartoon Network Schools Kids on Racial Righteousness: You Must Never Be Colorblind,” “Experts Warn of the Racism of 3-Month-Olds, Recommend Antiracist Training,” “‘Antiracist’ Infant? Childcare Chain Says Babies Should Learn ‘Diversity, Equity and Inclusion’.”
Anyone who was interested in the CWA's parenting support was also directed to its prerequisite: the “Teaching While White” podcast episode “Parenting While White.”
In addition, December 8 was the day of the academy's “Understanding Whiteness Affinity Group for Parents” training:
Join facilitator and coach Dr. Elizabeth Denevi for continued parent education specifically for white parents and guardians. Dr. Denevi will facilitate the December, January, and February sessions and will offer additional small group coaching to a few interested CWA parents. These parent volunteers will eventually co-facilitate the group with Dr. Denevi and in the spring will be the facilitators of this new parent group. Please reach out to Denise Williams if you are interested in volunteering for coaching and facilitating with Dr. Denevi.
For several decades, America appeared to have stumbled on the fact that race is not a factor. According to the theory, one should be judged on their character and not their skin color. Sometime in the past, the authorities realized that it was wrong to do so. Their subsequent efforts to correct the course of past racism have been nothing short of amazing.
Back to Charles Wright Academy: Hopefully, melanin-deficient, social-justice-minded moms and dads can fix their flukes. In this era of adoptive identities, perhaps they could be taught how to “parent while black.”