I have been deeply troubled this week by two more police shootings of innocent men doing normal activities. Two fathers that will not be there to share in their children’s lives. Two families ripped apart at the seams. I’ve felt the call to action as a white person to work on ending systemic racism, oppression, and police brutality. I am hoping I can live my life in a way consistent with my values and beliefs and join the Americans still fighting for equality and the rights afforded to the dominant culture in the US.
Parenting is challenging. It doesn’t matter what your life situation – there are always struggles. But, my parenting struggles are not directly complicated by my race, physical ability, religion, gender identity, or sexual preferences. I am a white, middle-class, able-bodied, heterosexual woman. I’ve had two uncomplicated natural childbirths and I have a loving and supportive partner and family. I know that this puts me in a category that many new parents aren’t in. There are many things I don’t have to worry about because of the spot I occupy in society. So, this post is just to point out some of the privilege I benefit from and acknowledge the fundamental struggles that those without these privileges may experience.
At New Mama Project we want to create a virtual space that feels safe, supportive, and accepting to anyone who feels they need some help getting through the postpartum or early parenting experience. This has been tricky to do coming from two white women who have relatively similar lived experiences. We know that there is no such thing as color-blind and we want to create a space that acknowledges racial, cultural, gender, sexual, and other differences. We certainly know that any difference or otherness one experiences can have a major impact on your well-being as a new parent.
Our greatest joy would be to fill our blog with postpartum stories from a wide array of new parents so that every new parent could find themselves on our site. If you feel compelled to share your story with us, please do so here! Whether you have a new baby or grown children, if you have a postpartum story to tell we want to here it. While we’re working on inclusivity, I can also do my part to acknowledge the homogeneity of our site and my white privilege.
The privileges myself and my family experience:
- I feel safe in my community and I do not worry that anyone in my family will be wrongfully killed by law enforcement.
- People generally look at me and have positive assumptions. If I’m doing something unexpected with my children, it’s unlikely someone will contact the authorities.
- I can attend parenting groups in my community and be assured there will be parents who have a similar life experience as me.
- I can send my child to pre-school and know she will encounter many children of the same race and culture.
- Breastfeeding my child is normalized by my friends and family and they generally support me doing so.
- I can tell people I am co-sleeping with my child and they assume I understand the risks and benefits of this practice. They will not contact child protective services based on this information.
- I can choose (and afford) to feed my children the food I see as most beneficial to them.
- I am generally regarded positively and treated well by doctors.
- I am physically capable of caring for my children.
- I am able to take maternity leave.
- I can be with my family in public without people asking me about how we got our baby – people assume I birthed my baby.
- I have the resources to buy clothes to fit my postpartum body.
- I have a car to transport my family around.
- I can afford diapers for my children.
- My family has health insurance.
- My children have been able to see a pediatrician for well-visits.
- My children are at lower risk for various health complications and even death just because they are white.
- Research studies on diseases and medications have been done on large groups of people who are the same race, gender, and socio-economic status as me, so I can feel more confident that any given healthcare is appropriate for my child or myself.
- My religious beliefs are not in contrast to recommended health care policies for my children.
- My children will be positively regarded by their school staff.
I could continue on and on here with the various privileges I experience and that my children will experience. There are many that I have missed and the conversation goes deep. I often feel I cannot sufficiently express the depth of appall and sadness I feel about the continued systemic racism and oppression in the US. I hope that we are, yet again, at the rebirthing of our country into a new era where EVERYONE feels they benefit from our society. I hope that I can look back and be proud of the role I played in that change. I hope that my children will know a world with less oppression and more equality.