This week we encounter yet another incident where a black person was killed by people with authority or percieved authority. Over the last month, we heard about Ahmaed Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and now George Floyd. As a wife of a large built black Man and mother of two black boys, I am very aware of the potential dangers that they face in America. I am aware of my own danger as a black woman. I pray for our protection daily. I pray that my children can exist in the world as children without racism creeping in destroying their sense of safety and security. But I know that is only a dream.
As a mental health professional, I see how racism manifests itself in the lives of those experiencing it. I listen as people try to make sense of a system that undermines their very right to live. Here we are, again, where not just individuals armed with weapons are a threat, but (protective) systems are weaponized and aimed at brown people. I will push against the spirit of fear. The danger is real, but I refused to allow them to rob me of my peace. In my home, we will have peace. I will have peace. I will not worry. So as I process the events of another black body dead at the hands of police, I think of my children. The fact that this man was murdered by a knee, he wasn’t even gunned down. He was totally surrendered lying on the ground stated he couldn’t breathe, and called out to his momma with his last breath. How do I explain that to my child? What is the message I want to communicate to my child. How do I speak to their fear, and reassure them that they matter. Below is my letter to the black child.
Dear Black Child,
You are loved. You are valued. Your life is more than a bag of skittles or a toy gun. Some people may try to convince you that you are less than. That you are unimportant, that you are second class, and the worst of them all that your are subhuman. However black child your life is important to me. I see you. I love you fully. I am home-base when you need a refuge. I will place the burden on my back if that means you have a chance to flourish. Black child you don’t have to live in fear of your life. Don’t give them your peace. Yes the treat on your life is very real. Oh child it is very real but we cannot add one minute or second to our lives if death comes. We are all mortal and death will come. But in the event that yours comes prematurely, and at the hands of a person or system that tries to run a narrative that you do no matter; I will be there.
I will be there to scream from the rooftops. I will not be silent. I will be there every day to share your humanity with the world. I will be there loving and cherishing your memory. You will be more than another body in the street. You will be a name, with a face. You are loved, black child. You are beautiful. You are worthy. They don’t get to determine your value. They don’t get to rewrite your story.
There is no pleasing those who hold negatives beliefs about your blackness. Do not diminish your greatness, your magic, your blackness because it is displeasing to others. Live your life out loud. Live to be seen and heard. Don’t shrink. Live your life as if there are no limits. As you encounter resistance, know that you were built to overcome and rise above it. It won’t be easy, it won’t be fair. You will encounter resistance at every step, but know that you have a community of support at your back to hold you up and a rich history of ancestors that have walked the path before you. Wisdom surrounds you. You are not alone even when it may feel like you are. Live child. Every place your feet carries you, you belong there. Live child, you are worthy. Live child, you are valued. Live child, you are seen. Death will not be your legacy. Your legacy will be how you lived your life freely without limitation despite the challenges you face.
Love a Black Mother.
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