My Children are Black
I want my children to love and appreciate all cultures, especially their own. Learning about the history blacks is essential for them to gain such appreciation and I share it with them every chance I get in our homeschool lessons. My children are black and now they know it. They know it because I finally thought it necessary to have that conversation. I told them their skin color isn’t liked by everyone.
The division that exists in America right now is something that I honestly thought would never be. Division has always existed, but I always saw America’s race and gender issues moving forward, not in its current regressive state. It is this state that drove me to reveal to my four and five year olds that their skin is brown and some people simply can’t stand it. I also shared with them the struggles of blacks from the slave trade, through the Civil Rights movement, up until now. For those that think this is unnecessary for children their age, let me explain my reasoning.
They Needed to Know about Skin Color
I did not want them to go somewhere, including church, a park or their extra curricular activities, and experience something that prematurely and negatively revealed to them they were black. Many African-Americans (non-whites for that matter) have had it happen. Telling them now was my effort as a mother to take the sting out of their (inevitable) first encounter with someone who isn’t accepting of others’ differences, specifically skin color.
This is a reality of people of color, whether some want to believe it or not. Inequalities still exist, even to those of us who have done our best with the cards that have been dealt. No matter the amount of degrees and Fortune 500 positions, no matter how Christian and kind we are, people will see people of color, my children, as simply the color of their skin.
When I Realized I Was Black
A group of celebrities, news anchors and reporters recently shared when they realized they were black in a video for CNN. It reminded me of an instance in my childhood that I will never forget.
When I was about 10 years old and while checking out at a convenience store, an older white woman approached me, telling me to empty my pockets. I was totally confused and asked her, “Why?” She proceeded to tell the cashier that she saw me put something in my pocket. I was in the store alone. My mother was across the street waiting for my sister to finish her gymnastics class. I looked at the cashier with desperation, wanting her to dismiss this woman who was lying on an innocent child. Well, the cashier only nodded, encouraging me to “obey” the lady. Tears ran down my face as I emptied my pockets, obeying authority like my mother taught me to do. On the counter I laid out my gloves, a random wrapper and then a Blow Pop with an extremely faded wrapper. The old lady yelled, “See!”. I spoke up and let the cashier know that I received the Blow Pop in my class the week prior and pointed out the faded wrapper. The old lady went about her day as I tried to prove my innocence. Soon after the cashier told me, “I knew you didn’t take it. You can leave now.”. I was so confused. Why didn’t this lady stand up for me while the old lady was still in the store!? She stood there and allowed ignorance to accuse and embarrass a child. I ran, crying, to my mother. My mom went into the store to confront the cashier about what happened, but it was too late. I left that place with a different set of lenses.
Being an Example
I am an example, the first example, to my children. When I ask them what they want to be when they grow up, their responses are, “A princess knight!” and “A mommy!”. I’m not sure if I’ve shown them what it takes to be a princess knight, but each day I live and strive to show them what it’s like to be a good woman, mother and wife. This includes showing them how to love people. I will continue to tell my children, while in a world whose ideologies will never change, they were fearfully and wonderfully made. They will be encouraged to see themselves as God sees them–not greater than anyone, and surely not inferior or less than human. They are strong, loved, intelligent, able to succeed, able to be themselves. Not everyone looks the same and that it is God-intended, beautiful and perfect that way. Our love will not end at the end of our driveway.1