“She is such a sponge and I want to get it right”: Tensions, failures, and hope in white parents’ aspirations to enact anti-racist parenting with their young white children
Whiteness, rooted in White supremacy, gives White people access to power while shielding them from seeing racism and its impacts or from acting to resist racism. Anti-racist allyship occurs when White people act to dismantle racist systems, and it therefore can reduce the socialization into values and epistemologies of Whiteness that uphold White supremacy. In the current study, we examined aspirations and engagement in anti-racist allyship among 19 White parents of young White children. All parents in the study identified themselves as engaged in anti-racism; all but one parent in the sample identified as a woman and most were highly educated and middle class. Using in-depth interviews and analytic methods associated with grounded theory, we find that—even among this self-selected group identified on the basis of their anti-racist intentions—racism, White supremacy, and Whiteness heavily shape their parenting choices and expectations for their children and interfere with their allyship. At the same time, increased knowledge of racism and the desire for authentic connection across difference push parents toward a more genuine anti-racist allyship and cause internal conflict for parents as they attempt to resolve the discrepancy between their goals and their parenting. Our discussion highlights the application of these findings to intervention with White parents to foster anti-racist allyship.
Research in Human Development
Heberle, Amy E.; Hoch, Noah; Wagner, Anna C.; Frost, Reihonna L.; and Manley, Melissa H., "“She is such a sponge and I want to get it right”: Tensions, failures, and hope in white parents’ aspirations to enact anti-racist parenting with their young white children" (2021). Psychology. 512.