A couple of weeks ago, a friend shared this video with me (thanks, Jules) and — as a mom — it was like getting punched in the stomach. In this video, Lauryn, the creator, manages to powerfully and succinctly ask a critical question: At what point do we, us fellow white people, start to see black men as a threat?
If you haven’t yet hit play, take a moment and watch. It’s a question worth thinking about, and a video worth watching.
Lauryn was kind enough to do a little mini-interview with us over email, and her answers to some of our very honest questions (ones we’ve heard in our circles of white people) are both thought-provoking and real.
Let’s get the basics out of the way: where you live, how many kids, etc.
I was born in Wichita, Kansas and raised in Plano, Texas ( just north of Dallas). I currently live in Los Angeles with my husband and my 3 1/2-year-old son. Yes I am a mother, a black mother, to a black boy. My life is dedicated to bringing change today to shape a better brighter tomorrow. Our very breath depends on it.
Oprah Winfrey says, “your calling is what you feel, it is your life force, the thing that gives you juice, the thing that you’re supposed to do, and nobody can tell you what that is.” My life force is for the stories, the hearts, the voice of the people, and the thirst for healing worldwide. I am the Founder of Authentic Voices Media, a Multi-Media Platform built on storytelling, community, and social change. I am a vehicle for change and a platform for everyday people. My life story and experiences are the art of my craft and fuel for impactful CHANGE.
Can you give us a little rundown on what you do?
I like to say I am a woman of many skills but of one passion. That passion is for the hearts and stories of people. I am an Artivist, an Activist using my Art for conversation and change. That is where Authentic Voices Media birthed from, a need to creatively express my heart’s deepest cry for change. I am also a chef in the eyes of my husband and my son!
Looking at your bio, you’re a mom, an artist, an actress and an activist. How do you find time for everything? What does your weekly schedule look like?
Honestly, I don’t find time for everything, at least not always in synchronicity. When I became a mom I only knew how to be a mom, and I had to rediscover my voice and give space for me to emerge. I was really nurtured by other women and mothers. Pre-pandemic, my days started with my son’s morning routine and preschool drop off, and then I would go work out of The Jane Club ( a co-working space curated for mothers and women), and try to pack in as much work as possible before heading home to cook dinner and do the night routine. Those days felt short yet productive (and sometimes unproductive). These pandemic days are a totally different story. It has been such a challenge learning to balance my work along with my son. My husband is a full time actor, so since the industry is shut down he has really taken on the role of caretaker. This time home has been the perfect season for me to dive deeper in my work. I have found myself to be busier than ever, even though I may not be getting paid for the work I am doing. The reward of this season has been more family time, time to process, and freedom from others’ expectations. I wake up, and show up the best I can and how I choose. Being at home really makes me feel like I AM my own boss, I just need a bigger office space!
Three words to define your personal style. Go:
Elegant, Free, and Classic
What is your favorite item in your closet — the one that makes your heart sing?
My handmade Shibori Tie-dye dress by Lisa Silvera. Whenever I wear this dress I feel magnificent, seriously! The dress has so much freedom inside of it, and she made it just for me with a lot of love!
What is your most-worn item of clothing?
Hands-down leggings! And the comfy cheap pair I pick up on grocery runs to Costco. These are worn everyday with t-shirts or dressed up with a blouse and boots/wedges. Can’t go wrong.
What’s your favorite mom bag? (The one you carry when you need to fit allllll the things.)
My most worn bag that can carry my world inside was made by women in Ethiopia through the company ABLE. It has doubled as a purse and diaper bag, and now it is all mine and just a purse. It’s beautiful and has a story.
Three beauty products you can’t live without?
- I’m not a big makeup person, but I always keep eyeliner and a good lipstick/tinted gloss near.
- Lotion because I can not stand dry skin.
After our craziest, worst days we often find salvation in seeing our kids. What’s your favorite thing to do with them to decompress?
I love a Friday night family movie night and date! Ordering some food, popping popcorn on the stove (the old-fashioned way), and listening to my son laugh. I love when an evening concludes with my son saying “I had fun mommy!” He is so easily pleased. He reminds me that many of life’s joys are in the simplest things, those are where the blessings hide.
Top three favorite books to read to your kids?
Do you have any ideas of how we can teach our white kids to stand up (or stand with?) their black friends without going down the rabbit hole of ‘White Hero Saves Black People’?
Children learn by example, their first example and the most influential being their parents. You should constantly ask yourself what you are reflecting on and through your kids. The very concept of “White Hero saves Black People” is the direct result and child of white supremacy. Racism has taken the ability away from you to see the humanity of black people. Ask yourself, how are you both upholding and benefiting from systems of white supremacy. Then ask yourself, how are your actions and benefits contributing to anti-black racism? There is no playbook or quick-read guide, this work is intentional and ongoing. You can begin by consciously observing and monitoring what ideas, values, thoughts, traditions, and privilege you pass down to your children. Even more simple, when you see someone as equal and human, you treat them as if you just met yourself.
What are concrete ways non-black kids can be an ally when they’re young? (Like…6 – 8 years old?)
This question alone makes me wonder how we teach our children about differences and acceptance. A concrete way non-black kids can be an ally when they’re young is by watching their parents. So the real question is, how are you, as an adult, leading by example and modeling what it means to personally commit to fighting oppression and injustice? And is it reflected by these actions?:
1. Educating yourself about different identities and experiences.
2. Challenging your own discomfort and prejudices.
3. Learning and practicing these skills daily.
4. Taking action and creating interpersonal, societal and institutional change. Children learn right and wrong from inside the home and carry outside. At 6 and 8 years’ old the greatest gift a child can give is authentic friendship that is loving, kind, and embraces a world that was made for more than just people who look like them.
In your video, you ask a poignant question — gracefully, with strength and impact. Our kids might be lacking the life experience to fully appreciate this poignant question, but where they go from here is largely up to us, their mothers. Our kids should be asked hard questions — ones they won’t necessarily have answers to — but questions they should think carefully about, before those questions answer themselves in their own lives. So. If you had three questions that a mother could ask young children today, for the purpose of prompting conversations, what would they be?
What does freedom look like?
What in this world do you want to make better?
Do you know what racism is?
My sister wrote an article called How Do I Raise Anti-Racist Kids In A Town That’s Mostly White? This article seemed to resonate with many of our readers who are struggling with the same thing. Do you have any advice?
Here are two questions I would ask you and all those who live “In a Town That’s Mostly White”, particularly one of privilege…
- Is your town a reflection of the world you want your child to know?
- Are you willing to exchange your privilege for Justice?
And lastly is there anything you’d like to see us, your allies, doing more of? What is one actionable thing we can do to help further the Cause?
The word Cause evokes a sense of charity, but what we need right NOW is Justice. Charity is not enough because it is not what will bring lasting change. Don’t get me wrong, a helping hand is necessary. When someone is hungry do not pass them by, stop and feed them. Then do the work (study, learn the history, and self-examine) to understand the systems that would allow someone to sit hungry, and find a way to use your voice and resources to change it.
This very moment in time demands that you ask this question of all people that you interview and ALL parents/guardians who visit The Mom Edit … Look inside yourself, examine your privilege and how you benefit from it, and Ask Yourself, What is the one actionable thing I can do to combat Anti-Black Racism?
Lauryn, thank you so much for taking the time to (virtually) chat with us. It’s so appreciated.