Today, I invite you on a personal journey that delves deep into the protective love of Black mothers and parents. This love is born from a legacy of historical trauma, encompassed by Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome (PTSS), and propels us to nurture resilience in our children as we navigate a world still grappling with the shadows of the past.
As Black parents, we carry a weight on our shoulders - the emotional backdrop of historical trauma that continues to impact the Black community. PTSS, the emotional and psychological effect of centuries of slavery and discrimination, reverberates through generations like a torch we can't seem to put out. It's not just an American thing; it's a global Black thing. Communities across continents, from Africa to the Caribbean, share this history, and it shapes how we raise our children.
In today's society, the temperature is marked by both progress and setbacks. Undoubtedly, we have made strides towards equality, and we celebrate the positive changes we see around us. However, the shadows of historical trauma continue to influence the way society treats people of color. Discrimination, systemic racism, and racial biases persist, reminding us that our journey is far from over.
As Black parents, our protective instinct stems from a place of love but is heavily influenced by PTSS and the current temperature of society:
Fear of Racial Bias: Sending our children out into the world fills us with a sense of unease, knowing that they may face harsh judgments or violence solely because of their skin color. We fear for their safety, wishing to shield them from harm's way.
Navigating Double Standards: We teach our children to be cautious about how they present themselves, as society may judge them based on racial stereotypes rather than their true character. It's an unfortunate reality we must address.
Empowering Resilience: PTSS has fueled a determination to raise resilient children, ready to face adversity and break through barriers. We instill in them the strength to push back against racial biases and stand proud of their heritage.
Balancing Protection and Freedom: Striking a balance between protection and freedom is an ongoing struggle. We want to shield our children from harm, yet we recognize the importance of allowing them the space to explore, learn, and grow.
The deep-seated fear we carry is not unfounded, but rather a result of the real or perceived bias that exists within society. As in the video a young white boy is seen energetically climbing the walls, exploring every nook and cranny with an adventurous spirit. In this situation, the crowd might look on with admiration, seeing a curious and spirited child simply being a child. Now, let's juxtapose this with a young Black boy engaging in the same exploratory behavior at the airport. Here, the crowd's reaction might not be the same. Instead of admiration, some might cast disapproving glances or even express disgust. The innocent curiosity of the Black child could be misconstrued, and the parents might find themselves feeling self-conscious, as if they need to justify their child's behavior.
This contrasting response is a poignant illustration of the different measure by which Black children are often judged in comparison to their white peers. The perception of Black children as inherently threatening or disruptive stems from deeply ingrained racial biases in society. These biases perpetuate the fear we, as Black parents, carry with us - the fear that our children will be viewed through a negative lens, even in the most innocent situations.
To break free from the shadows of PTSS and build a brighter future, we can take action:
Advocate for Equitable Education and Representation: Support education that includes diverse perspectives and histories. Encourage representation in media, literature, and textbooks to promote inclusivity. By nurturing understanding and empathy, we can break down barriers perpetuating PTSS.
Engage in Open Dialogue and Support Networks: Create safe spaces for open dialogue about race and historical trauma. Support mental health resources for families navigating the effects of PTSS. Together, we can uplift and strengthen one another, breaking free from the past's shadows.
The burden of preparing our children to navigate a world that may see them as a threat is a heavy one, but we strive to equip them with resilience, pride in their heritage, and the strength to overcome any obstacle. We aim to create a world where every child can climb the walls of opportunity without fear or judgment. As we nurture resilience in our children, we must also advocate for a society that values all children equally, regardless of their race or ethnicity. Only by recognizing and confronting the biases that exist can we pave the way for a future where every child is judged based on their character, potential, and accomplishments, rather than the color of their skin.