Every Black or Mixed family (yeah I said it, I put Mixed families in the mix) in the Western World have to have “The Talk” with their children. The talk on how to keep safe, how to interact with Police and other authorities.
I am White, very White, yet I’ve had The Talk with my family because my family is ethnically diverse.
Something I heard recently which has resonated is that the raising of Black Kids or Mixed Kids is to be hard on them, to prepare them to interface with how the world is going to interface with them, to get used to the idea that they will be harassed. To be physically rough a little, to yell a little, to be super demanding on grades at school. And there is merit in preparation.
HOWEVER, that’s pretty much not the tack I have approached. Perhaps because I didn’t have to grow up in that sense or feeling of being oppressed. Perhaps as a direct result of being white. Perhaps because I wasn’t particularly raised that way. I was raised Irish-ish in England – “obey your parents, pinch of salt everyone else”.
I have noticed that I have chosen to make the family aware of the challenges Black Kids face when going about their ordinary business.
But I have tried to raise my family with a sense of belonging, of expectation, of belonging, of being able to absolutely count on having someone in her corner, of expecting that she will take opportunities as they are presented to her, that if she chooses she can obviously attend University, that as she chooses she can obviously have the career of her choice, that she can count on daily hugs, of affirmative words in the home, of being happy to see her, of parental strictness and cultural protocols, of gentleness and kindness from her parents hands and everyone else in her sphere of influence, that we will not let her coast along flying under the radar, that we know who she is and she has a responsibility to raise her game.
Perhaps it was because I was raised in a white household without those long reaching external influences and fears that my family now has had the freedom to be raised in a similar environment. Perhaps it has been entirely the wrong message to give her, this after all is a 40 year experiment I have got going on. Perhaps life will hit her like a freight train, the same freight train which used to roll past my front door in the childhood family home.
I fear for her, I know full well what the world can do and how brutally lives can change in an instant.
However, I believe if she is not raised in a fearful of “them” home she will not interact fearfully with authority and this will smooth the edges of the interaction. Her body language screams positivity and “I’m English, I belong, I will interact with you in a mutually respectful manner” which is disarming and hopefully safety assuring.
Now, she’s had the privilege of being raised in a town in the Countryside of England and all of the insulated safety that provides, but has been to the City Of London frequently to take advantage of all that offers and visit with family who are based there. She has frequently experienced racism but so what. She’s not a country bumpkin but instead some kind of hybrid city/country kid, she see’s the world but doesn’t have to fear the world.
Perhaps, if we can, we parents of kids who look ethnically diverse could hug our kids more frequently than we yell at them about how other people will interact, we’ll raise a more confident generation who feel they belong and in tandem with demanding that authorities treat them right, they’ll start to exude a sense of calmness and exude very little fear.
Jury’s out. I’ll let you know how it went in another 23 years.