#BaobabSpeaks is a platform where we use our platform to elevate the voices of Black Women. Today’s sister voice is the dynamic @bkbuttafly. Below are her thoughts on being a Black woman and parent in these unprecedented times.
Over the last few weeks, being a Black woman and parent has been quite complicated for me. I have had more conversations about race with my White counterparts than ever before and was often left feeling emotionally exhausted, but at the same time reflective. To say, I am filled with a mix of emotions is an understatement, but I have been diligently working on listening and understanding from a different perspective. These “unprecedented” times are nothing new and unfortunately the unjust murder of George Floyd by the hands of the Minneapolis police is something Black people have been all too familiar with. I have struggled and asked myself if this collective outrage is genuine and WHY NOW? Where was all the global attention, protesting and leaning in when so many other Black men and women lost their lives at the hands of the police? I am torn and know that I won’t get an answer, but it weighs heavy on my heart.
I am fortunate that I was raised being very prideful and fully aware that my Black life mattered, so it’s been sobering to watch the rest of the world wake up 40+ years later. Race has always played a prominent role in my life and is not something that could ever be avoided. My mother ensured that I was aware of my African culture and my ancestors’ contributions to the world. My childhood consisted of trips to The Schomburg Center in Harlem, Jacob Lawrence art exhibits at The Brooklyn Museum coupled with protesting in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn when Yusuf Hawkins was brutally killed in 1989. I was always taught to embrace the beauty of being Black coupled with our struggle of getting the knee off our necks. Not to mention, my father served 37 years in various New York State prisons, so my awareness of America’s broken justice system has remained at the forefront of my life.
As a parent of a young Black girl in 2020, not much has changed. Like my parents, I am always educating Akilah on her history and working hard to instill confidence and pride whenever the opportunity presents itself. As a toddler, I always ensured that she had dolls that look like her because representation matters for Black children and is one of the first entry points of instilling her black is beautiful. Unlike me, she attends a diverse public school in a recently gentrified area in Brooklyn, so at age 8, she already has friends who represent every color of the rainbow. We’ve never had a formal conversation about race because her experiences have presented things organically. Over the last two years, we have had discussions about hair and teaching her to embrace her soft, puffy texture vs. the long, straight hair of her peers. She has questioned if we were “still in slavery” because several of her White peers were being mean and ousting her from recess at lunch, so there are always teachable moments raising a Black child. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I experienced the bulk of what she has been faced with, but I am grateful that her innocence has not been snatched and she still sees the world as her oyster.
As parents, it is our duty to ensure we are raising compassionate, respectful human beings that love and value themselves and others. I implore all members of Horizon Village to have the difficult conversations with your children, do not underestimate what they can process. Whenever possible, expose your children to a diverse set of peers and experiences so they are well-rounded. Step outside your own comfort zone and educate yourself and family members by utilizing the resource lists in the newsletter. Discuss white privilege and discuss how you and your family can use it for good. Now more than ever, is the time to be vulnerable with your children and have the difficult conversations you might be avoiding. The responsibility of being a parent is huge and not for the weak, you have been called to empower the next generation of leaders, don’t let them down!