Dear Every White Mom in America, We Are Responsible for Covington.
White moms like me: our children learn EVERYTHING from us.
Many of us are watching the video of Nathan Phillips and Nick Sandmann and the Covington High School students and either pointing fingers or turning away.
It’s painful to watch, and we MUST watch it with our children and make it clear to them that what Nick Sandmann and the other young men did is wrong and inexcusable.
Covington High School student's mom speaks out about viral video encounter
A mother who chaperoned a group of Kentucky high school students now facing criticism after being captured on video in…
No, Jill Hamlin, it is YOU and the Covington young men who are wrong.
It does not matter one iota what the Black Israelites said or did.
No white young men should ever disrespect a Native American man.
No white young men should ever disrespect a Black man, a Latinx man, an Asian man, Muslim Sikh or Jewish man, a gay or bi man, a transman, a disabled man, a veteran, or any other man or woman or gender non conforming person.
And when white young men do disrespect others, we should not make excuses for them, hire public relations firms to spin what they did, or allow them to come on the Today Show to tell their side of the story and not apologize.
We should not confirm them to the Supreme Court.
When white young men disrespect others, they must acknowledge that they have caused harm, apologize, and work on changing themselves so they don’t repeat the harm.
And we must ask ourselves, why do we give white young men second chances, while immediately assuming Black and Bown young men are wrong?
White moms, this is not a one-time conversation, we have to role model for our children every day what it is to respect and honor all people, especially people who do not look like us, and especially women.
If we don’t, our children will do something just as terrible as the Covington young men.
If we do not teach our children the truth about American history, our role in it, take accountability for the harm we have caused and continue to cause, and actually change our hearts, minds, behavior, institutions, and systems until we have racial equity in every corner of our land, Black and Brown children will continue to die and we will set our children up for a lifetime of failure.
We do our children a terrible disservice by not teaching them how to respect and honor all people.
Already, children of color make up the majority of children under eight years old in our society.
By the time our children are in the peak of their careers, white people will no longer make up the majority of the United States population.
No ban or wall will prevent this from happening.
This is PRECISELY why a truth, reconciliation and reparations process for examining our history, who harmed who, who benefitted, accountability by the people who caused harm, and repair for the people who were harmed would be beneficial to EVERYONE.
Unless and until we come to a shared understanding of our history and change ourselves and our society today, we will keep repeating harm, just as the Covington students did on Friday.
We must not point fingers, or turn away.
We must look into the mirror and ask, what am I doing to make sure my child does not do this?
What is my child learning from me, our family, the neighborhood we live in, the school we send our child to, the house of worship we attend?
And then we must take action to ensure that what our child learns from us is truth, accountability, repair, and respect.
Karen Fleshman, Esq. is an attorney, activist, single soccer mom, and a nationally recognized expert on racism, feminism, workplace fair practices, police brutality, and politics. In 2014, Karen founded Racy Conversations, a workshop facilitation company, to help people feel more willing and able to communicate honestly with each other about racism and to do so with increased empathy and understanding.
Karen’s passion project is to build interracial sisterhood and raise antiracist children. She is the author of a forthcoming book for white women about racism, blogs for Huffington Post, Moguldom, and Blavity, and is a Medium Top Voice on Racism, Feminism, and Politics. Karen is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, the University of Texas at Austin, and New York Law School, and is admitted to practice law in New York.
As she has since 2017, in 2019 Karen will cohost Inclusive Conversations in cities across the United States, events designed to unite women across age, race, sexual orientation, and class, and will speak about interracial sisterhood With Minda Harts and Dr. Avis Jones De Weever, Karen will speak at SXSW 2019 on building interracial sisterhood. For more information, contact her here.