We make sure they know their rights and how to deal with specific legal situations.
We give our girls examples of how to rise up against toxic messages.
We brace ourselves and tell them the reality that killing black children is an American tradition.
We remind our girls that their hair is a source of pride, not shame.
We support our sons’ rights to define and embrace their sexuality.
We discuss the implications of black women being the fastest growing group of people being incarcerated in America.
We educate them about the common, racially driven microagressions against black women in the workplace.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it intended to summarize the experiences of Black children and their parents in America. It’s a starting point, though, and it offers plenty of room for exploration within each of these items, all of which segue into the myriad other issues black people must deal with in America.
Trusting a Future We Cannot Visualize
Perhaps our foremothers and forefathers of the 1700s and 1800s could not have fathomed the Civil Rights Movement. Can we fathom what the world will be like 50 years from now? Our children deserve to experience confident self-direction, a sense of community, and a willingness to risk expression. That can guide change in ways we as adults—with both the benefit and baggage of our past—may not be able to see.
We cannot protect them by cautioning them against fully shining. We must strategize, and we must organize, and we must communicate our needs and prioritize our communities. We must not try to stay under the radar because it might be safer. History itself shows us that black children are targeted in America not because of what they say or do, but because of the fact that they are black. Give them the full story, show them examples of the reality in which we live. Help them develop into people who will be themselves with an understanding of what it might take to safely navigate this terrain while it is still so adamantly against the progress and power of black people.