I get to do really important work supporting Camelback Venture’s Capital Collaborative. For reference, Capital Collaborative is a program that works with mostly white grantmakers and social impact investors who are ready to critically examine and deepen their organization’s commitment to racial and gender equity - but may not know how. I’m proud of this and other work I do in service of building a more just and equitable world - but as a white father, partnered with a white wife, raising three white children I believe it is equally, and on some days more, impactful to be raising our children to be anti-racist. By that, I mean raising kids with an understanding of privilege, racial identity, and systems of oppression, who are committed to taking actions big and small to shift power. We believe that the way our white kids travel through their youth and enter adulthood with anti-racist beliefs and practices is one of our most important legacies and opportunities for impact as parents.

When we named our kids in honor of historical and fictional leaders in the long fight for justice and equity, it felt meaningful and aligned to the values we dreamed of for our family: Ella (16) - named in honor of SNCC co-founder and organizer of youth in the Civil Rights movement, Ella Baker; Moses (13) - named in honor of Mississippi voting rights organizer and math educator, Bob Moses; and Millie Scout (8) - named in honor of the fictional Scout Finch who leads with empathy and a conviction for justice in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. We knew that we also had to commit to actively learning, acting, and parenting towards justice.  In the 16 years we’ve been parents, our own understanding of equity and racism has evolved and we’ve tried to continuously raise the bar for ourselves and our family as that understanding has evolved. We have a ways to go and I am thankful to have learned from and with too many to lift up in this limited space (but if you follow these links you can also check out and support a few resources).

Here are a few things I keep front and center as we parent:

Practice. I have learned to think of anti-racism as a practice, not a destination. That helps me remember that I won’t wake up one day a successfully anti-racist white man, but rather every day I need to interrogate my actions, try, fail, and try again. I need to build a practice, and help my children do the same. This is especially useful wisdom for young people who are learning and growing and changing in real time at all times. Their practice looks different at different ages and developmental levels - right now we parent an elementary, middle, and high school student. When they mess up, give up, or misunderstand something, just like we also do, we need to be patient and forgiving and keep practicing. We try to name racism daily, we talk openly about our work when related to race, and we troubleshoot difficult situations with family, friends, and school. The goal is not a destination of being a perfect anti-racist. The goal is a willingness to learn, a patience to accept mistakes for parent and child, and a commitment to the belief that it is worth trying harder and not opting out when that’s easiest.

Engage Together. When I recently asked my kids what they think we do that helps raise them as anti-racist they basically said, “when we do stuff and when we’re specific!” One said, “When we go to protests and talk about why we’re going - to add our support, because we could stay home and still be OK but we should go anyway.” The youngest said, “I don’t always say much when we’re talking about the news and stuff at dinner but I’m always listening and learning.” We also try to narrate our decisions when we do things in the name of justice or equity. For example, we had a night of giving for Hanukkah last month where we each brought ideas of organizations to donate to. I was very specific about my choice to give to Black-led organizations focused on youth of color and shared why that matters. We try to do as much as we can together, and we talk about what we do out loud.

I should share at this point it is also important to stay open to listen and learn from your kids, too. As we engage together, our kids push us to be braver and act bigger - they’re hopeful, empathetic, and fierce, and have very high expectations of us adults.

Influence. Even in this year of remote learning, school has a ton of influence on our children's learning and development. Each of our kids has attended an intentionally diverse charter school with the mission: “To create a community rooted in justice and equity where all children thrive.” Before my oldest even began Kindergarten, my wife Kelly asked the school’s director about his plan to not allow the school to remain a white flight charter school. Our advocacy continued, with other parents as well, pushing the administration, staff, and board to attend a local equity training, participating on and off in the school’s equity committee, and other initiatives. Time spent in this way has had some of the biggest impact on our children’s anti-racist learning. We’re proud to be a part of this school community. In reflecting and writing this piece, I realized we have not yet brought the same focus and commitment to the larger district public school our older kids now attend, and need to commit to figuring that out.

We’ll keep practicing, engaging, and influencing. Just a few weeks ago, we were talking about how we’re sad but not surprised by the white supremacist violence at the U.S. Capitol, and what our action and commitments can and should look like after the inauguration, and following up on what the kids do (or don’t!) discuss at school.  We’re going to mess up and fall short. We’re going to do better tomorrow. Most importantly, our kids are going to do better for many more tomorrows to come.

Camelback Ventures’ Capital Collaborative works with white funders and social impact investors who want to deepen their individual and organizational commitment to racial and gender equity — but may not know how. Our unique approach brings together a community of white accomplices to engage in an introspective and concrete curriculum, to diversify their networks and make their grantmaking processes more equitable.

You can learn more and sign up for Camelback Ventures’ next Capital Collaborative Cohort here.