If the world knew in advance that 2020 would consist of a pandemic, social distancing, homeschooling, and worldwide protests, I’m sure we all would stay in 2019 a little while longer.
We did not sign up for this.
As a single black mother of two black daughters ages 15 and 10, I knew a time would come when I’d have to have a talk with them. No, I’m not referring to the birds and the bees, I mean THE TALK. The one that may cause discomfort, confusion, and even anger.
Yep, the conversation about living as a black woman in today’s America.
One week after George Floyd’s murder on Memorial Day, the opportunity presented itself to have a deep conversation with Briana (age 15) and Janiyah (age 10). Like most parents, I wanted to see how they were feeling in hopes that they would share their thoughts with me. Even though this tragic event had happened 7 days ago, the wounds were fresh and widespread as my heart was filled with many emotions.
Those who know me personally know that I’m very outgoing and all about spreading positive energy wherever I can. But not on this day. How am I going to initiate a conversation with my children with a heavy mind from feeling completely disheartened, triggered, and tired? And I mean TIRED. The days of racism date all the way back to centuries before any of us were born and to be honest, it hasn’t gone away.
While having dialogues with the girls, I always remind them that I have an open door policy and encourage them to share whatever is on their minds, even if it’s awkward or it makes me upset. I’d much rather them seek guidance from myself, a relative, or mentor verses not saying anything at all and keeping those feelings bottled up.
One child asked “Why would a police officer use this type of force on an individual who did not pose any threat, Mama?” I explained that sometimes even when we (black people) are doing what we’re supposed to, individuals who may not look like us or share the same culture will always have the upper hand in a lot of situations. African Americans are often overlooked and ignored. It can’t get much realer than that.
From the workplace, to being in spaces where you’re one of few or the only person of color, or even driving a certain type of vehicle down the street, black folks are always under a radar, and it’s something that my Caucasian counterparts have no idea what this feels like. It’s easy for my white friends to say “Erica, I understand how you feel girl. I remember when I…”
Wait a second. To my non-melanin friends and colleagues, please don’t take this the wrong way, but telling me you can relate to how I’m feeling because you’ve encountered something “similar” isn’t remotely close to what black individuals deal with on a daily basis.
So you may be wondering how you can be the change.
Or perhaps someone is reading this and would like to know how they can stand alongside the black community in wanting to take positive action towards bettering our society.
It starts with acknowledging that ALL BLACK LIVES MATTER.
I’m teaching my young warrior queens to have self-respect, speak up in uncomfortable situations, know their worth, and stand firm in what they believe in. These same morals and values are applicable to adults as well. It starts from within, and you have to be intentional not only in your teachings, but also in educating yourself so that you can follow suit with making change towards positive outcomes.
I’m praying that one day this shall pass, but in the meantime we, as a whole, have a lot of work to do and it starts now.