Embrace Race aims to build ‘racial solidarity’ among ‘kids of color’
On March 23rd, 2022, the non-profit group Embrace Race held a webinar titled “Building meaningful, healthy relationships among kids of color.” It was hosted by the founders of Embrace Race, Melissa Giraud and Andrew Grant-Thomas, a couple who created the organization to “meet the challenges faced by those raising children in a world where race matters.”
During the webinar, Giraud and Grant-Thomas interviewed three members of “Families of Color-Seattle (FOCS),” a non-profit based in the Seattle, Washington area that describes itself as “an organization that is connecting parents to build a loving community of families of color.” It offers several services, including “community resources and events, and racial equity consulting,” but focuses mainly on parent groups for “families of color” that “increase parenting skills and provide a space to discuss identity and race.”
The FOCS parent groups are essentially in-person, localized versions of the Embrace Race “Color-Brave Community,” which is described on the Embrace Race website as an “online community of learning and practice where parents and educators to young children (0-8 years) learn from and with each other to create spaces that nourish Black and Indigenous children and children of color (BIPOC).”
Many of the parent groups run by FOCS are “affinity groups” organized around its members’ skin color or other identity group characteristics. The FOCS panelists during the webinar explained their perspective on the utility of giving “parents of color” a safe space from the racial oppression they constantly have to contend with in the broader society. As FOCS Executive Director Christine Tang put it, she has personally witnessed with FOCS affinity group parents “the relief that comes from not having to think about the white gaze.” The FOCS website clarifies that “white parents/guardians of children of color can join FOCS groups that are not specific to a POC-only parent audience,” and all participants must commit to the “Undoing Racism & White Privilege Agreement.”
In addition to formal affinity groups, the FOCS members emphasized the importance of parents connecting with other parents of the same skin color or ethnicity. FOCS Events Manager and Program Coordinator Hafidha Acuay lamented how many people believe that it’s racist to want to talk to someone just because they share your skin color. “If you are some place and you see another black family or another family of color,” Acuay told the audience, “it’s okay to talk to them because they are people of color.” She added that parents should be encouraging their children to think in this way too: “Definitely don’t ignore another child that looks like you. But actually see that as a point where we can connect.”
As the event’s title suggests, the discussion also focused on how to galvanize “cross-racial solidarity.” Christine Tang argued that “families of color” will naturally come together by viewing their oppression “through the lens of white privilege,” and by acknowledging that this oppression is caused by “the systemic racism upon which our society was built.”
The participants and the moderators also contended that “people of color” have historically been pitted against each other by those who are intent on upholding white supremacy. The final audience question touched on this issue as it related to the rise in anti-asian hate crimes, and how many of them have been committed by black men.
Christine Tang responded to the question by reiterating her perspective on the importance of talking to children about race and racism—“there’s no child that’s too young to understand the concept of race…to understand a lot of the topics that adults feel afraid to bring up with children.” Melissa Giraud held up an example of a podcast that she listened to that left out any mention of the black perpetrator’s race when covering certain anti-asian hate crime incidents. “I thought it was really great that they were separating that [race],” she said, “because it becomes an ‘asian’/’black’ thing when actually it’s about white supremacy.”
Past webinars from Embrace Race include “The Attack on ‘Critical Race Theory’: What’s going on?,” and its National Advisory Team includes Eduardo Bonilla-Silva and Ian Haney Lopez – two of the most frequently cited scholars of critical race theory. Published articles on the Embrace Race website feature titles like “Explaining to My Eight-Year-Old That Yes, She Too, Is Racist,” “Talking to my White kids about abolition,” and “Your 5 Year-Old is Already Racially Biased.”
The Embrace Race financial supporters page lists donations of more than $250,000 from organizations like the LEGO Community Fund and Rite Aid Foundation, as well as smaller donations from GAP Inc., Claire’s Inc., The Hershey Company, and other household names. Embrace Race is a fiscally sponsored program of the Proteus Fund, a group that connects philanthropies “with the frontlines of social justice.”
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