Raising Black Children in a Racist Society
Turn on the TV right now. Put the TV on mute and take a few moments to soak in any Black images you see. The girls prefer to obtain a white image (contoured faces, long, blond weave) and display disrespectful and promiscuous behavior. The boys are simply athletes (pawns on a chess board) or disrespectful entertainers.
Society tells our children that they are (ONLY) descendants of slaves (a pronoun that incorrectly labels their entire life’s existence). This mindset tells them no matter what they do; they are doing better than their ancestors (drug dealing and pimping included). Therefore these are the images that our children emulate.
But wait… Our kids are “educated”. They focus on school and do well in it. In their classrooms each week, our children learn about inventors who have worked diligently to make our lives better. None of these inventors look like them. Then they learn about geniuses such as Einstein, Pythagoras and Newton. They are not shown any geniuses who look like them. Then they learn about their “founding fathers” who we owe our freedom and independence to. None of which look like them; and every last one of them enslaved our ancestors. Then Black History Month comes and they learn that after their history started with slavery, all their ancestors ever wanted, was to be was “equal” to White people. Their history books also give them a great paragraph about how Black people sold themselves into slavery. The rest of the book ignores them entirely.
Need further validation?
Great American monuments, museums, legends and stories also do a wonderful job of ignoring anything remotely considered Black. The Washington monument shows no inclination that it or the entire District of Columbia was inspired by Black men and women (as it truthfully was). Some of the greatest African American museums will only highlight the pain and torture of the Black race (while carefully ignoring at the hand of whom) or the Black firsts (which is typically AFTER someone else).
With this undeniable truth, why then, would you ask any young Black person why do they disrespect themselves and others like them? With the entire world watching these forced media images, it is no wonder that many think that Black people are all thugs and sluts, who have never contributed anything of worth to society, but live for free in housing projects or jails. Some of the people around your neighborhood know better, but because images shape our reality, we often find ourselves believing it.
After being psychologically attacked by the media, let’s add in the fact that since slavery, Black people have passed down generation after generation that the darker you are, the less favorable you are. To ‘act Black’ is to have no sense, while ‘acting white’ is proper. To wear your hair the way it naturally grows is nappy and unacceptable, while flattening your hair is to look more presentable.
The poor children indirectly learn to hate themselves before they can even talk.
With society constantly telling its citizens that a Black life is not worth much, it is hard for our children to grow up with the confidence they need to be truly successful and to be champions for their people. To begin to counter this problem, it must be faced with the same persistence and pressure of its alternate image. History is the best teacher in these situations.
While your child is consistently seeing these negative images, remind him who controls the media. We do not control our image on TV, radio or in print. Major media companies decide who, what, when, why and how the information is distributed and neither of those companies are owned by people of color. The same thing goes for the music industry. All major record labels are not owned by any people of color, therefore we cannot control what songs they allow or disapprove. There is variety in all genres, but unfortunately the ones distributed to and for African Americans are usually one sided.
Remind your child that racism, white supremacy, still exists. African Americans were forced out of restaurants and attacked by the police only two generations ago. Those people are still living. They are teaching their kids, just as you should be teaching yours. Just because the media (that we don’t control) shows a friendly rainbow coalition, does not mean that this occurs everywhere. The same or worse has happened to Africans in Australia, Europe, Brazil, India, Africa, etc. The attack on people of color is global and all children must be aware of this.
Explain to your children why racism exists. Africans across the world, in all of the inhabited continents were a thriving, civilized group of people hundreds of thousands of years prior to Europeans leaving Europe. Everything that is anything was created by them. In order to break that power structure, a simple system had to be put in place that was not based on geography or status, but based solely on color. Make sure to explain that the only way to control a group of people is to first control their mind and erase their culture. Once your oppressor makes you feel like your dire situation is a sense of home, you don’t want to try anything else.
Encourage your child not to use stereotypes against any part of the African Diaspora. Divide and conquer is real and has consistently worked on people of color for about 1,000 years. There is no need for a new system, if the old system still works. It is our responsibility, to eradicate negative dispositions towards one another. Passing on a negative tone regarding any one within the African Diaspora only proves beneficial to our demise.
Make a commitment to learn and teach your child about your ancestors and elders every single day. After children are exposed to the facts, they are able to think more clearly about their situation and move towards making positive changes; even if that change is simply not disrespecting themselves or others like them.
We have to remember that slavery has affected all of us. Every person on the planet is consistently reminded of the forced, chattel slavery that has occurred against African people. The word slave does not even fully explain the kidnapping, terrorism, torture, rape, dehumanizing and murder that our ancestors went through. If anything, we should actually be proud that we still survive after it and after 100 million of our men, women and children have been brutally slaughtered through European expansion. Our souls have gone through a traumatic, psychological destruction and it is almost impossible to regenerate positive energy if we consistently tear down our own spirits.
The descendants of the persons who have gone through those horrible things are now left with looking for work, trying to feed family members, dealing with disease and simply trying to survive. It’s time to go beyond survival and start living. Teach your child to live now, so that he will see the world as it truly is. He is not victim, but a survivor. It is our job to engrain in our children that although society does not acknowledge your struggle, does not mean that it does not exist. Our ancestors have left us with a most important message, engraved in walls all over Africa, as if they knew the plight that we would endure.
Man, Know Thyself.