Kindness begins at home: How Traci Baxley uses ‘radical love’ to conquer fear and promote justice

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Jessica DuLong

Published December 7, 2021

When her teenage son, upset that he’d forgotten to do a homework assignment, ran from their home one morning, Traci Baxley panicked. Instead of just worrying about his feelings, she feared for his life. A Black kid on foot in a predominantly White Florida neighborhood, wearing his school hoodie — had she given him enough tools to keep him safe? Her knees buckled. She realized that she alone could not protect her five biracial children. She needed other parents, including those who didn’t look like her, to regard her Black children as part of the global village — to value their humanity and nurture their sense of belonging. From there on the floor, she resolved to create what she called a mosaic of moms willing to raise children whose deep caring about justice in an unjust world leads them to take action. Her son’s safe return home didn’t lessen her determination.

Baxley’s new book, “Social Justice Parenting: How to Raise Compassionate, Anti-Racist, Justice-Minded Kids,” is what she calls a “road-tested resource,” grounded in her experiences as an educator and cultural coach for parents and caregivers. She aims to help readers recognize parenting as a form of activism.

“The values and actions we practice at home will be reflected in the way our children move through the world,” she said. “When we create spaces of belonging in our home, our children will grow up to create spaces of belonging in the world.”

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.