Parenting is a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be. Add the current socio-political climate, and it's downright cringeworthy and complicated.
During my pregnancy last year I cried many tears after learning I was carrying my son not for any other reason than knowing life for him would be hard on the outside of me and all I could do was prepare him. I'd been able skate by raising our daughter in a very diverse manner and even attempted the risk of making her "color blind". How silly of me! Neither she nor my son can afford that disservice on account of my comfort, or lack thereof. I turned to some in my network and asked some things about parenting black kids in America right now. Here are some of the things they shared:
Raising Black kids in America is…
· Potentially deadly with no retribution
· Emotional - the emotion of pride and fear of retaliation towards your child.
· A blessing but also a full-time job because you have to teach them things you never in your wildest dreams thought you would need to teach in 2017.
· What keeps us honest and alert about our past and uncompromising for the promise of their future.
But how does one talk to their children about celebrating blackness and welcoming diversity when the world is screaming division, hatred and prejudice? How do we share harsh, cruel realities without crushing their existence, aspirations for greatness and tainting their innocence? More importantly, how do we share the truth in love without creating a breeding ground of fear?
I haven't mastered talking with my kids but here are a few tips I've found to be helpful in talking with our beloved babies about Blackness and diversity:
1. Be honest and truthful. Our kids can’t afford to not know the truth and its potential impacts on them (positive and negative).
2. Don't hide your emotions. But don't let your emotions overwhelm the conversations either. Our children deserve to see how emotions work and to learn how to process and express theirs in a healthy way.
3. Read. As a writer, former teacher and mom, I find books to be an amazing springboard for conversations, especially on difficult topics.
4. Expose them to opportunities. Whenever possible, expose children to a variety of opportunities. Take them to places where Black excellence is full-throttle. Show them spaces “of privilege” where they might be the ONLY one.
5. Be proud and self-confident. We are our babies’ first teachers. How can we instill a sense of pride, confidence and belonging, when we fail to recognize and accept it within ourselves.
I'd love to hear your ways of discussing Blackness and diversity with your kids.