We read stories as a family. It is much more rare as our kids have gotten older. There is often pushback — no, ugh, why??? It’s so boring!. But when our youngest came in and said, “Mom, I just read the best book, and you have to read it too,” I knew family reading might be in our future.

My son had just finished reading Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. It’s about how we’ve justified the mistreatment of people of color for centuries through the stories we’ve been told, and allow ourselves to believe. Of course, I’m oversimplifying the contents of the book, but after reading it, upon my son’s recommendation in less than two days, it was the essence of what I took away. The mistruths of what I’ve allowed myself to believe up to this point made me uncomfortable but was also freeing. How could I have been so blind?

Now, before we go further, I’ll share that I, by nature, am a curious person, and am often seeking how to improve myself. I know I am flawed (we all are, we’re human). What happened to George Floyd really opened my eyes to the horrors and trauma that still occur today. It made me (and I believe many of us) want to explore our beliefs and behaviors, and change things for the better. I have actively been working on that, but reading this book helped me better understand how we (collectively as a country and beyond) got to where we are at. I knew we needed to read this as a family and my youngest agreed.

In lieu of a family movie night, we changed it to reading the book. Each of us would read a chapter. While our oldest pushed back — no, ugh!, this is going to be so boring! — it was quicker to read than watch a movie, and he liked getting time back, so he agreed. 😊

We read several chapters then talked about what we read. There was some reluctance on what some family members thought of as “feeling judged” by the author. My son and I disagreed and we proceeded as a family to work through the discomfort being felt. Why do you feel judged? Could/should we be judged in the future for things we still haven’t gotten right now (think equality, gun control, environment)? YES! At the essence, we discussed whitewashing, and how we “wash” over things because they make us feel bad or uncomfortable, and our need to understand things “as they are” and try to see others through a newer, clearer lens.

It wasn’t an easy conversation, but a needed and good one, and by the end I think we all had grown a little more. We still have more reading and growing to do, but I’m grateful that we’re closer to understanding reality for others, and learning how to improve ourselves as a result — in how we engage with, appreciate, and seek more truth vs. what makes us comfortable.

What stories are resonating with you and your family? What discussions are you having as a result that’s helping you (all) grow?

3 thoughts on “Storytelling

  1. This hits me so many ways right now!

    We recently changed up evening routines here, so that I ejoyed seeing how you’re navigating that. I’m contemplating writing my own post about recent changes here, which changes are less heady but proving very meaningful in unexpected ways.

    My older son no longer reads with me.
    This makes me appreciate all the moments I have reading (Oz books, at the moment) with him each evening.

    My ex and my sons being Black, I am also reminded of all the painful learning I have done over the years. I am glad I did the learning and have this keener awareness and corresponding chance to take wiser action from it. I am grateful when I see and hear other people taking this path.

    This evening, too, I’m thinking about parallels to my recent experiences understanding I’m autistic. When I express appreciation for time spent connecting with folks wired more like me, I’m not dismissing others; I’m simply saying it’s both rare and so much cognitively easier. I appreciate folks who show up for that with curiosity instead of disengaging because of perceived judgment. The point isn’t to exclude; the point for me is to express gratitude to, for some moments, not have to work so hard to communicate effectively.

    Long story short, I guess what I’m getting at is: My heart celebrates the curiosity and willingness to lean into discomfort here. ❤️

    • Thank you for sharing. What wonderful awareness and insight you have. I believe we all benefit when we lean into discomfort that helps us be better, but it’s tough to do, right? Appreciate people, like you, that are aware, and lean in (and celebrating when others are) too.

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