White kids without shoes, white privilege

Kate Maguire,
Champaign-Urbana, IL

There is a parenting trend happening now towards “natural” childrearing which conjures up for me a picture of young kids frolicking barefoot in the grass, with grass and dirt-stained knees, perhaps not even completely dressed and fully enjoying the outdoors as nature intended. I live in a higher socioeconomic, predominantly white neighborhood in my city, and as a white mom with small children regularly encounter this parenting philosophy. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with it, I can’t help but always wonder that this parenting trend is not open to people of color. A white parent with a dirt caked, shoeless child running through the neighborhood is given the benefit of the doubt as “natural” or “crunchy”. A black parent would more readily be labeled a neglectful or bad parent, and that could have dire consequences for their family. This doesn’t seem fair to me at all. I have thought is over and over again since becoming a mom, and this is the first place I have ever voiced it.


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