“Hey Black child.. Do you know you are strong.. I mean really strong.. Do you know you can do.. What you want to do.. If you try to do.. What you can do” (Excerpt from the poem “Hey, Black Child" by Useni Eugene Perkins, 1975)
No doubt, being a parent is a full-time job that requires patience, wisdom, and faith. No matter the race of the child or parent, income level, geographic location, or any other demographic, challenges will arise. However, the toxicity of white supremacy in America, which is rooted in anti-blackness, makes parenting Black children a unique experience. Preparing them to be great in an often-unforgiving world that provides a false narrative telling them otherwise cannot be taken lightly
If the last 10 years have taught us anything, it’s that white supremacy is an age-old tradition in America that will not go without a fight. Hopefully we have all learned that no politician or legislation is a guarantee of liberation, and removing vigilance can be costly. In the blink of an eye the reality we knew can become a distant memory. And through it all, babies are born requiring the holistic care of parents to prepare them for the world ahead. This is where parenting Black children becomes a balancing act.
While the challenges parents of Black children face in 2017 are not new, the unlimited access to information, social media, and a false sense of freedom that prevailed for four decades add a unique caveat. Children see and hear a great deal. And today’s culture is wrought with messages that tell Black children their lives, opinions, and experiences are of less value than non-Black children. From memes to the day’s headlines, the joyful existence of Black lives is challenged.
The same images that white people see which perpetuate white supremacist views are the same images Black people see. The unfortunate fact is, without consciousness, Black people internalize and believe these messages about ourselves. To defend against this, we often tout an even more powerful counter message of empowerment.
This is why we often go hard when celebrating our wins. Or why we gather around the TV or phone to root for each other when a Black person excels in their field. We recognize the tenacity required to push through one of the greatest obstacles contrived by this white supremacist system; being born Black.
Raising children is no easy feat. However, raising a Black child in America is a task that requires a delicate balance of love, discipline. nurturing, a dose of reality, and cultural pride. This is the empowerment parents instill when raising Black children, even if it is not done consciously.
Parents of Black children, take heart and know you are raising the greatest of us. Speak life into your Black child. Nurture their gifts. Show them examples of Black people doing amazing things. Affirm their hopes. Tell them racism is a lie built on the fear of their greatness. Support them in their loses, assuring them it’s a step along a bigger journey. And watch them become the visionaries of today and leaders of tomorrow.