Resistance is in their blood, but activism is something you teach.
At first, I wasn't sure if the Women's March in Downtown LA was a place to bring my kids, the day after the inauguration of President Donald Trump.
After all, it's for women, and my kids are boys. And it is going to be very, very busy.
But then my son asked me why I was going to go downtown, into a massive crowd, when he knows how much I hate crowds, chaos, noise and traffic — four things guaranteed to be present.
I told him that sometimes we have to be uncomfortable in order for our voices to matter.
We have to step outside of what we normally do, where we feel safe and secure, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Also, it's a chance to see one of our heroes, U.S. Senator Kamala Harris.
"I want to go, too," he said.
And so it was decided.
He even wrote about the march for school:
In the beautiful state of California there will be a march that will impact the world, the Women’s March. There will be 49 marches in California alone. The Women’s march is to fight against men who think that women are powerless and can’t do a thing.
It will also be all across the U.S. It is also about Donald Trump saying anti-feminist things. People made beautiful signs for the march. They got so many people to march that it outgrew Pershing Square. This is so important because there are so many sexist people in the world and this will bring awareness to people.
I’m actually going to the L.A women’s march on Saturday and watching Trump say such horrible things he does to women, I wanted to make a stand. It makes me sick and angry that anyone could say those things. In conclusion I think women should have equal rights.
My son hates crowds as much as I do.
But he was born with a strong sense of justice and fairness, just like my own father who protested the Vietnam War.
Like my 98 year-old pacifist grandfather who was nearly imprisoned for refusing the draft during WWII (he was granted religious exemption and joined a Quaker team of social workers who helped children in impoverished countries get life-saving surgeries, instead), and my great-grandfather who fled Germany after WWI because he refused to be part of their military efforts and ideology.
I've told my sons stories of radicalism and resistance their whole lives.
Not just about the big events like the march from Selma to Montgomery or Rosa Parks' refusal to sit in the back of the bus. Or about the iron-jawed angels who worked for women's suffrage (as flawed as their efforts were).
My kids have also heard about their great-great uncle Connie, who was arrested in Germany for protecting two older Jewish women during Kristallnacht, about their grandma who worked with League Of Women Voters, and how their grandpa advocated for LGBT rights before the city council in his small, conservative Midwestern town.
My grandfather, father and uncles
Resistance is in my kids' blood, but activism is something we have to teach them.
And that's why my boys will be marching alongside me, their dad, and our friends during the Women's March. As allies.
Because they need to see what it looks like to rise up, to fight for what you believe in.
They need to feel comfortable in a protest environment, just as they need to learn how to have civil conversations about politics and social issues. Because, while change is made in the streets, it is also made in people's hearts, through compassionate conversation.
As little white boys in America, both skills are necessary. They have the privilege of being safer in public spaces than our friends and family who are people of color. They also will have the social privilege, as they grow up, of being allowed into historically white male spaces, where using gentle voices to call people in can make massive, massive change.
As my friend Qasim Rashid said, during a powerful Facebook Live broadcast on the day of Trump's inauguration:
"Wars don't begin because people were too civil with each other. Wars don't begin because people engaged in too much dialogue. Most wars begin when people stop engaging in dialogue."
I want my kids to be the ones who engage in the dialogue. To know why it matters to stand up for others. But they also need to know how to show up (in peace) when numbers are needed.