(Full transcript below)
Hey. It’s me. It’s been nearly a year, almost, and I wanted to share more about what happened. So as you know, Race N Kids began as a way to share stories from family and friends of color. One of the stories I wanted to share last year centered around what it means to raise our children in a faith-based household. The last video I posted was supposed to be the first of a miniseries on religion and faith. It ended up to be my last one of the year…not intentionally at first…we had some scheduling conflicts and then illnesses.
And then a couple of situations came up that brought back why I have been struggling with my Catholic identity, and why religion as an institution, as a whole, has made me feel so jaded and frustrated.
This time last year, I think I may have shared this, Alana was preparing to receive her first communion through her Catholic school, in partnership with the church attached to their school. I was a little nervous about it, but it was completely her choice and she wanted to, so we supported her. There was some ickiness about parts of it, and I was completely transparent about it with her school and her teacher. Things like how kids had to be baptized at a Catholic church to be able to do first communion (that’s completely false). Like how they sent back a worksheet requiring participants to attend weekly Sunday mass and to write a summary about the sermon/homily…that seemed excessive. Or like the language used around how there was only one right way to pray and worship God.
We found ourselves needing to talk through what Alana was hearing versus what we practice and believe in as a family. She didn’t even bat an eye. She was open to challenging what she was hearing and accepting that being Catholic was not the only way to have faith in God. It was actually really humbling because I feel like I was never that perceptive and inquisitive about my faith when I was her age. I just took things as is, and that’s part of why it felt like I was getting hit by bricks when the Catholic church was preaching the opposite of my own values.
At that same time though, I did get hit with a brick. As you know I run my own consulting business. About two years ago, the principal at the girls’ school reached out to me about co-writing a grant centered around diversity and inclusion. We were very intentional about what to include in there, and one of the more exciting things we did include were classroom and library funds to increase children’s books that centered BIPOC stories. That was fun I shared resources for where to find these books, and spent weeks curating a booklist for their library.
I mean, I was doing other things too. Like providing a very introductory training around identity and racism. Everything was going well up until I was informed that some of the church goers felt like the work I was doing was “anti-Catholic.”
Now, I have an over active imagination so my brain immediately went into fight mode and I was ready with all the words if any of these folks tried to tell me that in person. Had whole scenarios (in my head). Luckily, we have a very supportive school principal who is significantly more level-headed than I am.
But it was so frustrating hearing how the work we were doing was being distorted because the Church has become so close-minded and contrary to what it means to be Christ-like. In both the book funding and the training, our language was always always centered on making sure all the kids felt seen and heard and that they felt like they truly belonged there at school.
That was the heart of why we were doing this. We did a second grant for the 2022-2023 school year. We again included book funds to center BIPOC stories and characters (because hey, we love books, and teachers and kids loved it) AND training on how to weave equity work into curriculum (led by my teacher husband and his colleague). In all of that work, we always said that it was because kids deserved to be seen and heard and loved and understood.
So when I heard “anti-Catholic,” I was brought back to when I shared to a Catholic former best friend about how I supported marriage for all queer people and he told me I was going to hell. It brought me back to that place in college and post-college when I started to realize that how I lived out my faith-based values was absolutely different from what my church was preaching.
How could I be sending my children to a faith-based institution that thinks loving our children meant denying them the opportunities to see themselves represented in stories? So anyway, I was not in a good head space last Spring/early summer 2022 and I have been trying to think about how to proceed with this Race N Kids project in a way that was still true to me , to us.
At first I thought I’ll just start fresh, with a completely different theme. But then I thought, you know, I can’t let whiteness take my faith too because you know, white supremacy and whiteness is at the core of the language and rhetoric in all of this. In fact, I started realizing that there are people in my life who have found a beautiful way to strengthen their faith relationships despite whiteness trying to hijack it all. So I’ll share that with you because that’s important too.
And then you know, I’m gonna move on because I’m sick of religion at the moment. If the work I do is seen as “anti-Catholic,” then fuck that right? Why do I want to continue identifying myself with a religion that preaches love thy neighbor only in words and not through actions?
I think we’ve seen a lot of how hate has been justified because of religion. We see that a lot in the anti-LGBTQ attacks…fueled by extremists in the Christian world. And yet I know religious queer people who don’t let these hateful people take away their relationships with their faiths.
I admire that a lot. I don’t know how to do that yet. And I don’t really know how to raise children in faith when I am so clearly struggling with it. But you know, here I am. We will see how that goes. So yeah, that’s a big part of why I just couldn’t continue at that time. A lot going on in my head. But now I’m in a better head space, with a semi plan. I hope you take the time to listen.