Raising children is difficult but raising an African child is an even bigger challenge. This is because as millennial parents we are faced with a dilemma: raising a child who is connected to his/her roots but also one that can easily assimilate into the global village and succeed. While our forefathers raised us during slavery and colonialism and were part of a generation that was forced to adopt foreign concepts such as Christianity/Islam, we are a generation that has the freedom to be who we want to be.
The violent death of George Floyd has caused massive uprising all over the world. With protests from all communities, regardless of race. What many black parents and those raising black children have felt is fear, fear that their children are a gunshot away from dying and they currently are a teardrop away from crying.
I read a humorous WhatsApp status about the protests that said that a black woman cannot protest against racism when she is wearing a weave as she is already being racist to herself. Some said, but black people cannot unite. Which in retrospect has a little truth to it, and I mean just a little, but truth nonetheless.
It has been said on many occasions that Africans hate each other. Colonial masterminds like Willie Lynch have been blamed for this. Why does a black waitress treat white customers better than would if they were black? Why would a black male date a white woman who is overweight and has no career but will turn around and want to date only the sexiest and most successful black woman? Why do we believe that a company managed by a white person will succeed as opposed to one managed by a black person? Why is a white tourist or visitor treated with so much hospitality than a fellow African is, in your country? Why is a light-skinned woman (yellow bone) considered more attractive than a dark-skinned woman?
A few years ago, I published my first book, “Journey to emancipation” which I wrote mainly for myself. While busy reflecting on my life, I felt it was necessary to write it down for my future self. This book was a tale about an African child who was busy unlearning all the untruths that she has learnt throughout her childhood. Demystifying the popular opinions like black her skin and hair being ugly. The book was about an African child learning to embrace herself while navigating her way through a world that rejected her.
I think it is important to realize that, sometimes one’s dislike for Africa, its cultures, its spiritual systems and its people could be a reflection of a dislike of themselves. When you look at yourself in the mirror, do you love your thick lips, your coarse hair and dark skin? By loving what you see in the mirror, it is easier to love the next person you see, who is a reflection of yourself. The African is you; you cannot hate your reflection if you love yourself.
Angela Davis said, “We have to talk about liberating minds as well as liberating society.”
How do we help our children attain mind insurrection? Does it matter if your child’s hair is natural? Does it matter if your child’s name is African? Does it matter if your child is fluent in their mother tongue? The answer is both yes and no. What should matter is the fact that your child is proud of being African and even in a weave or a private school accent, they are content in who they are as an African. The challenge is to teach our children to be able to easily assimilate into the global village without feeling inadequate and shrinking because they are insecure about their African heritage. I believe the answer is not teaching our children to love each other as Africans but teaching them to love themselves as Africans wherever they may find themselves in the world. Tupac said it best, “the darker the flesh, the deeper the roots.”