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I was once asked to write about what it’s like being a Black mom. At first, I wasn’t ready to dismiss this as a topic because I just didn’t want to face these issues, in all honesty. I thought no one would care about what I had to say on the matter.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my experience as a Black mother actually differs quite drastically, especially when compared to my Caucasian counterparts. As a Black mom, a first generation Haitian, living in a Eurocentric based society built off of systemic racism, there are just certain things that Black moms have to do differently or approach differently for the well-being of their children.
Disclaimer: This is not an anti-white blog posts, I am just listing my experiences as a Black. I would like to add that I am very proud of being a woman, being Black and being a mother. I wouldn’t change any of this for anything in the world.
For starters, here a list of things I heard growing up. Usually, these would be a series of conversation starters that would be followed by a lecture or a series of instruction.
- “You have to work twice as hard to make it in the world…”
- “If the police approach you…”
- “Some people won’t like you because of the colour of your skin…”
- “Your body is perfect just the way it is…”
- “Driving While Black”
- “You are not allowed to be angry”
- “No matter how successful, you will be seen as a threat…”
- “Black fathers do exists…”
- “Be careful if you speak out, you will be seen as aggressive…”
- “Not all of your Caucasian friends are anti-racist…”
These are moments that I have experienced that I know I will have to prepare my children for. There will always be a reason for people to be evil. I do believe in a better tomorrow. I am hopeful but I am also very cautious. After all, I am a Black mom.
Most mothers that I know, are naturally protective of their young. It’s instinct. It’s primal. It’s biological. Often times, as moms, we do everything we can to ensure that our children are well cared for and have all the tools necessary to thrive in this world. Unfortunately, for us BIPOC it involves having the race talk way younger than we would. It means having to explain to them that no matter how nice, polite or pleasant they are they will be seen as a threat. Especially, if they are males.
I don’t want to be that helicopter parent that is constantly hovering her children. But based on the media coverage of the brutalization and blatant murder of our own, I am becoming more and more skeptical. Things are starting to make sense and I am becoming aware that as adults we have a choice to make. At times, speaking up in the workplace as a BIPOC is seen as being hostile and creating a toxic work environment.
I can remember the countless times that my body was sexualized before I even knew what that meant. If I was picked on I had to just deal with it, because being called a racial slur was “kids being kids”. My hair had to be “presentable”. The police isn’t our “friend” and it’s better just to avoid them all together. Being gaslighted is a normality that I didn’t realize was abnormal until recently.
This is NOT the world I want my kids to grow up in.
They deserve better. So much better. That is why I’ve decided to become a stay at home mom. I wanted to teach them my way. I wanted my daughters to have the space to be exactly who they are meant to be. They can be fearless leaders and speak their minds with respect and understanding. They are safe at home to be themselves and not just another minority.
They can learn their history as it was and not the white washed or nitpicked version of whatever the world says it is. Furthermore if we don’t know where we’ve been, we won’t know where we’re going.
I truly believe that if I want to see the change, then change must start at home. In short, being a Black mom is like being a mom. A mom who is a Black woman who has faced prejudice at school and in the workplace. A mom who has experienced hate before she could even introduce herself. A mom who’s had to bite her tongue to preserve her child’s innocence. A mom who’s tired of seeing another hashtag pop up on her timeline, knowing that one day in the near future I will have to explain what those names mean. A mom, who’s had to accept disrespect from others to avoid creating a “toxic” work environment or to keep her job. A mom who’s been told to go back where she came from, got slapped in the face and that day was ready to lose her job. I know I will have those conversations with my girls. What will I tell them? I don’t know.
That’s my experience as a Black mom.