Raising black children is a courageous act. Not a task for the faint of heart. Each day, I pray that my children return to me safely. While I imagine this desire is present within most parents, black children carry an additional burden. The burden of being perceived as a threat. The risk of being viewed as expendable, or collateral damage in the battle to maintain white supremacy. Our children become news clippings, ghosts, memorials in the streets. They whisper in our collective ears, haunting our national conscience—a continual reminder that we have failed to meet our moral obligations and ideals.
Every day, families mourn and grieve for the children that have been taken away. Lives that never got to reach their maturation. As parents, we do our best to prepare our children for the battles they will face. The subtle, every day occurrences—such as, contending with racist micro-aggression, the continuous reminders that you live outside of the “mainstream,” that you are different. The battle to be seen beyond the myths associated with your skin color, the unconscious negativity that society collectively associates with the word, black—black magic, black market, black mail, the black plague. The pressure to constantly put non-black people at ease, to prove that one is not a danger or a threat to them. The attempt to not be too angry, or too loud, or too confrontational.
Add on the assumed belief of black inferiority, the erasure of black achievement from the educational discourse, and the dominating doctrine that proclaims that all significant historical achievements were initiated by those who classify themselves as white; It takes significant courage and tenacity to raise black children in the face of such immense hostility. To instill within them the self-love and knowledge to face such seemingly insurmountable circumstances. As parents of black children, we are fighting to undo over 400 years of self-hate indoctrination. To teach our children that they are loved, beautiful and worthy of all the gifts of life. That their skin is strength, not inferiority or weakness. To embrace and take pride in their kinky, curly hair. To love all of the various hues and shades of blackness, from caramel to dark chocolate. To respect, support and uplift one another. Our children are our most precious gifts—the legacy that we pass onto the world. We must put our full efforts into raising them to be the best human beings they can be. We must support and help them to foster their gifts and talents.
We must protect them from those that would try to cause them harm. This materialistic society attempts to trick us into believing that money, material wealth, and the ability to amass and accumulate things is what life is all about. However, this is a fallacy, smoke and mirrors, another trap designed to deceive and leave us morally bankrupt. The protection, nurturing, and uplifting of our children is where the true wealth of a society resides. I may not own stocks, bonds, or mutual funds, but investing time and energy into the well-being and development of my children is the greatest investment that I could make.
I will continue to battle against the doctrine of white supremacy. I will challenge the norm that says black children are disposable, that their lives are of less value. I will continue to combat the myth that black history and achievements are irrelevant or subordinate to white history and achievements. These are the investments we must make as warriors raising black children in a physically and emotionally hostile environment. Hold onto your children, teach them well, nurture their gifts, keep them safe. Our collective future as black people depends upon it.
Devin James Baldwin, M.A. Professional Writing