A dance class.
A soccer practice.
Talk to y’all tomorrow.
A dance class.
A soccer practice.
Talk to y’all tomorrow.
– written by my sista Salina Gray
I’ M saddened and actually surprised by the number of people who carry such FEAR and worry into their parenting. And what’s most tragic is that they’re giving it to their children … And even other peoples’ children. I think perspective and rational thinking are crucial when you’re responsible for the welfare of a child.
Please stop telling your children what a bad and dangerous place the world is.
Please stop telling them that everybody hates
them because they’re Black.
Please stop telling them that random non-Black folk are hunting them down in the streets and killing them. It’ s just not true.
Trust if we did a RIGOROUS and ACCURATE data analysis and reporting of the results (here in the U.S) the numbers would show that it is NOT ‘open season’ on Black people as I KEEP seeing people say.
And please stop telling each other that Black boys ‘aren’t safe anywhere.’
And stop telling them that George Zimmermans’ acquittal means that their lives don’t have value. Trayvon’s life had value. Oscar’s life had value. No matter what Mehserle, Zimmerman or their supporters think. The decision of these 6 women, the defense, hell the whole judicial system in Florida does NOT determine the value of our babies’ lives. Sorry. I will NOT accept or perpetuate that narrative.
Tell them instead about the centuries old diseases called White Supremacy and racism. Tell them about the origin of this race and color mythology. Talk with them about their manifestations and impact on every facet of our lives and the importance of eradicating them, creating a world where No group is stereotyped, mistreated, marginalized, oppressed or abused.
EMPOWER them with self confidence, compassion, empathy and courage.
Stop w/the wimpy cowardly parenting already. That shit is way unhelpful. And it is NOT how the Ancestors who lived, fought, bled and died to be recognized as human got down.
Perspective based on actual data not just personal experience, anecdotes, anomalies, and what the media portrays is necessary.
We need to raise Warriors.
That won’ t be accomplished by instilling fear, doubt, and worry.
I learned a LOT interacting with OG (as in Original Gangsta) parents. Even in the midst of gangland, they raises their babies to be SOLDIERS: proud, reppin their set, their block, their hood and their flag to the FULLEST. EVEN in the midst of their enemies.
I apply that same mentality to my parenting and teaching.
If my analogy is lost on you and you dont understand where Im coming from… Ill say it this way:
in the Spirit of Malcolm, Ella, Yaa, Fannie Lou, Arundhati, Lolita Lebron, and the countless who have committed their lives to the struggle… EMPOWER your babies. Give them HOPE and not hopelessness…
I am many things. I am a woman. I am a mother. I am black woman and mother to black kids. I am a Christian. I am a liberal. I am a feminist.
I am pro-choice.
I am pro-life.
I am anti-abortion….for me.
I am pro-Roe v. Wade.
Roe v. Wade…abortion…life…choice… these words mean so much. And we talk about them as if they are opposites, as if life and choice and abortion cannot coexist. And I’m not sure that they can. But one thing I do know — the right to abortion cannot be disconnected from the cultural context in which it exists.
I don’t think it makes much sense to argue about when life begins. Any woman who has experienced the loss of a miscarriage – whether it happened at 8 weeks or 8 months – will tell you that the life lost began as soon as she knew the life existed. Other women will tell you that the life did not feel “real” until that child actually appeared out of the vagina. But I don’t think that really matters.
For the right to an abortion is not about the abortion at all. It’s about self-determination in a world that hates to let women have a say and hates to make sure children have a life worth living.
As much as I know in my heart that I will never have an abortion (hence my “anti-abortion”), I also know that the right to have one is a pivotal right for every woman to hold in the world in which we live. This is a world that throws food away while people – including children – starve. This is a world that does not guarantee each person clean water and fresh food and preventative health care. This is a world that uses the education system to perpetuate and exacerbate racial and class inequality. This is a world were women are blamed for sexual violence. This is a world were many women cannot earn enough to support the children they have. This is a world where our kids can’t even be safe in school.
That doesn’t mean that I don’t value life. Because I do. My children are the most precious thing in the world to me. They give me three reasons to live each and every day. I think I was destined, by God, to be a mother. It’s the most important thing I do. If I were to have another pregnancy, unexpected, I would birth that baby. No doubt in my mind. But I would do it because I wanted to. Not because God told me to. Not because anyone else wanted me to. Because I wanted to.
I would likely not feel that way if I didn’t have a choice.
Which also means that if the world were perfect (not sure what that would look like), I would still be pro-Roe v. Wade. Because as distasteful as abortion is to me (and to most people – I don’t think anyone takes pleasure in the loss of life), the moment we start policing how and whether and when women bring life into the world we have made life less perfect, made life less equal for some of us. As soon as we start telling women that their bodies no longer belong to them to do with them as they please in pursuit of their liberty and happiness they no longer have liberty and they are forced into someone else’s conception of happiness.
I’d rather have free, happy women than constrained, oppressed women. I’d rather trust that the person who will be responsible for nurturing that life growing inside of her as to whether she can or is willing to do that responsibly.
I think there can still be restrictions, because I still think that abortion is the taking of a life. Freedom does not mean carte blanch. But I think that should be left to a truly democratically-elected legislature, and not a court of nine individuals who are not elected. Because it is that democratically-elected legislature who determines whether an unemployed mother will be able to rely on the social safety net to feed her children. They are the ones who decide how much money we put into educating children. They are the ones who decide who is worthy of health care. And who is not. The same people who want to force women to have babies should be the same people who will make sure those babies have healthy, happy lives.
So I support Roe v. Wade, but I don’t “celebrate” it. Abortion is not a cause for celebration. But I understand that choosing to end a life often means choosing to lead a life worth living. Who is to say – other than the person making the decision and living the life – which is more important?
At first, I thought that comparing the experiences of the slain children in Newtown to the slain black and brown children across this country was insensitive. I thought that it just wasn’t the time to point out the inconsistent treatment of dead children due to gun violence. I thought that no matter the color of the child, the pain to that parent is the same. And I still think all these things.
But as I’ve taken in the media coverage in the past 4 days, I’ve started to get a little annoyed. Angry even. And ultimately unbearably sad. And perhaps that’s my fault for watching the news, and their macabre fascination with death and tragedy. It seems that CNN simply cannot get enough footage to capitalize on the pain and sadness of others. Their camping out in front of churches where children are being buried despite the families’ requests for privacy? I almost want to throw my shoe at the TV. But instead, I just change the channel.
But not before I saw the comfort dogs.
The beautiful golden retrievers dispatched to Newtown to bring some joy to the children of the community. The dogs trained to be gentle with even the most aggressive child. The dogs putting their nose to a 4-year-old’s nose. A shiny golden coat gentle rubbed beside a rosy cheek.
And while my heart broke with the memory of the pain, it also broke at the injustice of the disparity. At the fact that it seems that some kids’ deaths mean more than other children’s deaths.
For where were the comfort dogs to heal the children living in the Florida community of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, children likely traumatized that they could be shot down under the Stand Your Ground laws?
Where were the comfort dogs to heal the children living in Chicago when 7-year-old Heaven Sutton was shot in the back after running from her mother’s candy stand when she heard gunshots?
Where were the comfort dogs to heal the children living in Camden, NJ when a 6-year-old first grader was murdered trying to protect his 12-year-old sister from rape?
Where are the comfort dogs for the millions of children in Philly, Detroit, Chicago and other urban areas who are suffering from PTSD from the DAILY threat of gun violence and death?
I want the children of Newtown to receive all the good things this world has to offer. I want all the well-wishers to send teddy bears, cards, and care packages. I want the knitters to send their handmade monsters to every single child at Sandy Hook Elementary School so that they know we love them.
But I also want the Camden first-graders to get comfort dogs. I also want Heaven’s classmates to get handknit monsters. I want a CNN special for every child who has ever died due to gun violence. I want their names and faces plastered on TV with words about their favorite book and how their smile brought their families joy. I want news vans to stay on the scene for days talking about the senselessness of every child’s death.
Not just for the children who go to school in a “bucolic” New England town.
Not just for the children who go to school in a place that had not seen more than one homicide in the last ten years.
Not just for the children who go to school where the vast majority of them are white.
Please understand me – when I see the face of each and every 6 and 7 year-old who died in Newtown, I see my own almost-7-year-old first grader. I hold nothing against those children or their parents or their community. I just want equity. I just want EVERY child to be remembered. I just want the same outpouring of grief for EVERY child who dies of gun violence. They may not have died en masse, in one classroom, in one community, but they are dying nevertheless. Their parents are hurting nevertheless. Their classmates are traumatized nevertheless.
I want the sports teams and day time TV hosts and churches all over the country to observe moments of silence EACH time ANY child dies from a gun’s bullets. I just want to feel some sense that if my cousin’s children, who still live in Philadelphia, are murdered by gun violence that the nation will mourn for them. I want some sense that if the children who play at the Boys and Girl’s Club in East Palo Alto were gunned down that the nation will mourn for them. I want some sense that black and brown little children matter too.
But I won’t hold my breath.
First graders. Teachers. Principal. Psychologist.
Charlotte Bacon, 6,
Daniel Barden, 7,
Olivia Engel, 6,
Josephine Gay, 7,
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6,
Dylan Hockley, 6,
Madeleine F. Hsu, 6,
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6,
Chase Kowalski, 7,
Jesse Lewis, 6,
James Mattioli, 6,
Grace McDonnell, 7,
Emilie Parker, 6,
Jack Pinto, 6,
Noah Pozner, 6,
Caroline Previdi, 6,
Jessica Rekos, 6,
Avielle Richman, 6,
Benjamin Wheeler, 6,
Allison N. Wyatt, 6,
Rachel Davino, 29,
Dawn Hochsprung, 47,
Anne Marie Murphy, 52,
Lauren Rousseau, 30,
Mary Sherlach, 56,
Victoria Soto, 27.
Do not let their deaths be in vain. Remember them. Work to make things better in their honor. If we fail, their blood is on all of our hands.
Hey everyone – I know it’s been awhile, but we’re still here! I take full responsibility for the quietness of this site…but if you didn’t know, I had a baby!
Isn’t he beautiful?
He’s three months old now, but we’re still getting the hang of each other, and I don’t have much time outside of taking care of a baby. Once we get a day care situation together (and I don’t even want to think about that), then we’ll revive what’s going on here. Because I certainly do need an outlet. I’m already predisposed, but I don’t see how ANY woman can survive months with no one to talk to all day long than another being who depends solely on her for everything needed in life without antidepressants. Just real talk.
But now I have another cocoa child to love, care for, raise, and worry about. And another motivation to keep up this site to talk about how we all face the challenges and joys of raising our cocoa babies as cocoa mamas.
Love you guys, and we’ll be back writing regularly soon!
My four year old precocious, bright, funny, gorgeous son… is a pimp.
Ok maybe not in the 1970s Blaxploitation sense.. but he definitely brings all the girls to the yard. I recently escorted him on a school trip (he struggles with anxiety issues still) and I watched as the little girls clamored to be his line partner. A line partner holds your hand when you walk two-by-two down the street. When we got to the theatre, there was beef over who would sit next to him. One girl started crying. Then, on Valentine's Day, he comes home with this:
I think he got the most Valentines of all the boys in class.
Why the title of this blog? He's just like his father, already lol All the women trying to achieve that number one spot. I joke about it, of course, because he is only 4. But it does make my mind run wild.
I came to a point where I began to question if I wanted his father, as the man he is/was, to be the one influencing and shaping his idea of manhood. I have not, and do not, consider his father a good role model in terms of how he should treat women or carry himself as a man. I'm not interested in bashing him, but essentially, our marriage fell apart because he is a liar and a cheater. He is also raising my son with one of the many women he cheated on me with.
How do I explain that to my son as he gets older? How does his father do that with a straight face? How do you teach your son to be a man when the man he should be modeling himself after doesn't even know how to be one? How do I teach my son to do opposite of everything his father has done with women?
I'm scared… I guess. I'm scared my son will end up just like his father in that regard. That he'll become a man who lies, cheats, and is abusive. That he will come to accept that mistreating women is ok so long as his own selfish needs are taken care of. How does his father teach him to be the opposite of him? Isn't that hypocritical? What lies will he be told when he starts asking questions about why we aren't together and how he ended up with the new woman? Will that lead to my son resenting his father? I don't want that to happen.
Boys are rather protective of their mothers. My ex even had issues with his own father for the way he treated his mother and other women in his life. It is helpful to note, my ex is just like HIS father (with regard to the whole womanizing, lying, cheating, thing). Hell, my own dad was a womanizer who lied and cheated and was abusive. It is not far-fetched to believe my son has a good chance of ending up the same way; it's in his DNA.
And yet, I am letting him have primary care-giving responsibility. Am I over-thinking this or am I justified in having this concern?
Black men and women are struggling when it comes to relationships. Every statistic out there reinforces this idea. The key is to raise our children better, provide them with better examples of how to be. How can we do that when we're not doing the best ourselves? Black children need more positive examples of loving, successful relationships, not based on deception and lies, but on truth, love, respect, honor. Too many baby mamas and daddies caught up in vicious cycles of hate and antagonism. Not enough strong, solid foundations from which they can learn how to be strong Black men and women.
i wasn’t even going to comment on trayvon’s death. so many others have said so many eloquent things that i just didn’t feel the need to add anything. but then my son, my 6-year-old prince, made me see that silence is not what’s good in these streets.
i watch this news with my kids every morning as we eat our breakfast. i understand they may not “get” everything, but i want them to know there is a world out there bigger than them. well, this morning on good morning america, there was a story on the shooting death of trayvon martin.
my six year old son sees trayvon’s picture and asks – ‘who is he?’
me: ‘he’s a child – a 17 year old boy – who was shot and killed while walking down the street.’
him: ‘why? what was he doing?’
me: ‘honestly, he wasn’t doing anything. he was black and walking.’
him: ‘that’s just like martin luther king. he was shot because he was black too.’
my six year old son can recognize that this shooting of a black child is as suspect as the 1968 shooting of a civil rights legend. my six year old son can recognize that something is as amiss in our society today, with our black president, as it was when blacks were still fighting for our “rights.”
how many more trayvons do we need to see that race and racism is as alive today as it was 50 years ago? the means and methods have changed, but not the end results.
our peoples are still dying in the street in this war.
and i still need to teach my black son how not to become a casualty.
“If you speak Chinese, you must be white.”
The other day, my son, age 6, my daughter, age 4, and my husband and I (age 30 something) were driving down a busy street on our way to drop me off to have lunch with a friend. On this street, there are a number of restaurants from many different cultures: Japanese, Chinese, Indian, American, Italian. For some reason still unbeknownst to me, my son noticed a Chinese restaurant and said the words that begin this post.
I don’t think my husband heard these words, but I sure did. I immediately responded, “Well, Big A, that doesn’t really make sense. Most people who speak Chinese are, well, Chinese. Not white.”
“Yes, they are. They are white.”
At this point, my husband says, “What? WHAT??” I put out my hand, meaning to signal, “SHUT UP.” Big A continues:
“This girl in my class, Benny*, she speaks Chinese. And she’s white.”
Now, I know Benny. Benny is certainly NOT white. But perhaps she is biracial, so I allow for this possibility. “Well, maybe Benny has a white parent and a Chinese parent. But she’s at least part Chinese. That shows that non-white people can speak Chinese.”
And then something really brilliant comes to me.
“And you know what, Big A? Ms. Arlene* speaks Chinese. Did you know that?” Ms. Arlene is a very close family friend, and she’s black. But she speaks fluent Chinese, and is teaching it to her (black) children.
Big A: “Well then she must be white.” Loving the 6-year-old logic.
Me: “But you know she’s not. She’s black, like us.”
Big A: “Ms. Arlene’s not black. She’s brown.” Ut-oh. Ms. Arlene is light-skinned, but only a little more so than Big A and his sister. At this point, I’m a little lost, especially because we have now pulled up to my lunch spot, on a busy street, with no time to sit and continue to chat. I’m torn between three interrelated issues that I’d like to address in my last words. So I chose what I consider to be the easiest.
“You know, Big A, Chinese is a language. Anyone can speak Chinese. Just like anyone can speak English. You can speak Chinese, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Swahili – it doesn’t matter. Language is available to everyone.”
But this point, his eyes have glazed over and he’s on to some new distraction outside his window.
The other two issues, outside that of language specifically, was dealing with the “Chinese = white” racial confluence and the “light-skinned = brown not black” skin color conundrum. Several days later, however, these two kinda intercepted.
We’re watching Ni Hao, Kai-Lan. It dawns on me that this is a perfect time to address the “Chinese = white” issue. Kai-Lan is obviously Asian, right?
“Big A – look! Kai-Lan is speaking Chinese, and she is Chinese, right? Not white, right?”
Never looking away from the television: “She is white.” I suppose it’s not obvious.
“What do you mean? Kai-Lan is not white. Look at her!”
“Mommy. You look at her. She’s white.”
I thought I’d done well by “teaching” my kids that they were black. I wanted them to understand one of the social groups to which they belong, and to have a deep seated appreciation and love for their social group. I never wanted to reduce being black to skin color, but have definitely used skin color as a starting point for our conversations.
But now I realize that I must go deeper, even starting at such young ages. I somehow assumed that they would innately see and appreciate the difference among folks once I pointed out their blackness, but I now realize either (or both) one of two things is occurring: 1) they only see themselves (black) verses everyone else (non-black = white) or 2) they are utterly confused about themselves being “black” when their skin is not Crayola black and therefore are not able to tell the “difference” between other groups with similar skin colorings.
I’d thought that “teaching” them about race would be like “teaching” them about our religion, Christianity. I thought they’d hear the songs and the stories and the admonitions, “You should love God” and a love of the Lord and Jesus would just permeate their souls. And for a while, I thought that was what was happening. We started really “doing church” two years ago and since then, they will say on their own how much they love God and spout their knowledge of the Bible and prefer Bible songs over other songs and will talk about being like Jesus. And while I understand this is indoctrination in some form, it’s also been a full-court blast socialization, full of questioning and misunderstanding (“is God like magic?”). It hasn’t been one conversation here and there every few weeks. It’s been every day.
If I had to choose, I want my children to have a better understanding of Christ than I do them having an understanding of race. But now I know what I need to aim toward, at least somewhat. Race, ethnicity, culture, and language need to be a constant part of our conversations. Otherwise, one day they are going to misidentify the wrong person. Someone who ain’t playin’ “I don’t know the difference between White and Chinese because I don’t see race.” Yeah, that can’t happen.
For the last two weeks, my daughter has been making the same observation wherever we go: “Look, Mommy; the American flag!…God Bless America!” We don’t talk much about the flag in our house (or about blessing America), but today I found out why she had become such a vexillologist.* When I dropped her off at pre-school this morning, her regular Tuesday music session was already in progress. I helped K quickly wash her hands so that she could run off and join her classmates. As I walked out of the room, I heard her music teacher say, “Okay, let’s stay standing, because I brought my flags with me today!” I left the classroom, but stood outside the door to watch as the music teacher picked two children to hold two flags, and then led the group in a song that I couldn’t hear, but assume was patriotic. Watching all of this, I was caught off guard.
My husband was raised in the black nationalist tradition, and I am first-generation—both of my parents are immigrants to the United States. As a result, neither my husband nor I are strangers to alienation within the borders of one’s own country. As far back as high school I stopped automatically pledging allegiance to the flag every morning. Part of it was pure teenage rebellion; I was just daring somebody—anybody—to try and force me to recite the creed. But part of it was also a political awakening. It had started becoming obvious to me that, some 30 years after the civil rights movement, Blacks were still not necessarily embraced as rightful citizens of the United States. The American flag, in all its starred and striped glory, still did not represent me, and so I did not have to pledge allegiance to it. One need only look at the enduring birthism movement in the country, a full 3 years into Obama’s presidency, to find continuing evidence of the country’s ambivalence towards its minorities.
As an adult, I remain conflicted about my country of origin. Our national conversation—or maybe lack thereof—regarding marginalization and subordination is discouraging. A social and legal embrace of “colorblindness” have made impotent the words of the Fourteenth Amendment; instead of genuine respect and dignity for all citizens, we have mere formal equality, as if treating similarly people who are not similarly situated could ever result in justice. The current discourse about reproductive rights has left me feeling attacked and hurt; the rhetoric makes clears that my capacity as a woman for thoughtful and rational decision-making is still questioned. Buoyed three years ago by the election of our first Black president, I am now deflated by the racism and classism that still abounds; that is, indeed, on the rise, as indicated by presidential candidates who “don’t want to give their money to Blacks,” or who “are not concerned about the very poor.” Although I never feel more American than when I am abroad, when in my own country, patriotic stirrings wax and wane. I dismiss The Star Spangled Banner as war propaganda, but eagerly harmonize to “This Land is Your Land;” I roll my eyes at “America, The Beautiful,” yet, “If I Had a Hammer” never fails to bring me to tears. I’m ultimately more patriotic to the idea of what American could be, but not what it presently is.
Which brings me back to my daughter. What, exactly, do I want to teach her about allegiance to the flag? She is, after all, a citizen of this country, and must learn that, if only to ensure that she exercises her rights. Like me, however, I’d also like her to see the potential of the United States—which means teaching her to love this country, so that one day she might be motivated to improve this country. And yet, as I walked away from her classroom today, I felt uneasy about having watched the classroom teacher help K place her tiny hand over her beating heart. My reaction to such early political indoctrination regarding a country that has still not done right by all its citizens is mixed; much like my feelings about my country, I suppose.
*vexillology: the scholarly study of flags