From the moment I found out I was pregnant, I realized the job I had ahead of me with nurturing and strengthening an empowered, aware Black child was never going to be easy. Rewarding but not easy. How would I release an empowered civic minded and self aware Black child into the world? I've dedicated every ounce of my parenting time to this personal challenge. It seems like this personal challenge ramped up for me (and many other parents) after witnessing the protests this summer, the continued murders of unarmed Black people, and the contentious 2016 and 2020 election cycles.
How do we have discussions about race with Black children? How do we teach Black kids to self-advocate? What should parents raising Black kids make sure their kids learn before they leave your home?
The first lesson that Black kids should learn is that they are loved and valued. Love is a revolutionary act... particularly Black Love. Cultivating and nurturing Black love is a challenge on it's own, but it is totally worth it. We have to affirm Black kids in their value and their ability to be loved. We have to push back when society signals that Black love is irrelevant, obsolete, invisible, or non-existent. In order to do this, parents raising Black children, have to balance building resilience (tough love) with compassion (connecting with community). This goes for classroom educators as well... which is a whole other conversation I'll have later.
So... How do we get this done? First, think of your home is as civic space. Your home is a community space that prepares children to want to contribute to the well being of their social and physical environment. Doing chores, taking turns, asking about another person’s day; these are contributions that kids can make to the home community.
Raising kids to be community members builds resilience. You can build resilience by having standards that are collaborative in nature. It does not have to be an authoritative environment in order to build resilience. In our home we have four pillars:
When we build community and encourage our children to participate and contribute to making our home community better, stronger, more efficient, etc. we are building resilience through accountability. We are also building compassion through connectedness. This goes beyond cleaning the house and yelling at our kids when they make a mistake, instead we hold discussions about why a missed dishwashing session prevents the success of everyone in the house and how that is not equitable. We invest time in walking kids through how their missteps may prevent the community from moving forward. How am I being selfish? How can I become more selfless? How am I also making sure I make space to listen to others? Am I using my voice so that I may be heard?
Catch more questions and tips like this in this awesome conversation with my favorite millennial couple - Khadeen and Devale Ellis!
Dig deeper into our journey in raising Black kids:
Listen: Talking to Kids... About Race
Listen: #SayHerName... Connecting the Dots
Watch: Racial Issues in Roblox: Blackface in Roblox
Watch: How to Raise a Socially Conscious, Anti-Racist Child
Read: How to talk to kids about race and racism
Read: All Lives Matter...
Read: Black Hair Challenge And Racialized Aggression
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working in edtech. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.