• Akili

My parents love my kids, but...

Sometimes they say racist stuff. This is always an interesting conversation for me to have with a TRA parent. Many people are convinced that they grew up the right way, and though they acknowledge that their parents weren't perfect, they don't always want to admit they were racist. instead they will provide context by saying their parents lived during a time when it was more acceptable to be racist. While I'm not arguing that, what does someone really believe when they are racist?


If I believe that I am better than you simply because of my skin color, or I feel superior to you because I believe your skin color was a curse, or some type of cruel punishment by God, how can I also really love you?


Now, what's required here is a change in one's beliefs. That's the exciting part. The work required to change a belief is simple, however it's a challenge because the work has to completed in order to incite change. Your mind fights to keep things the same.


Changing beliefs is also how the eradication of racism will come about. What would happen if you could get people to focus on the characteristics we share instead of those that create a false sense of separation? I remind my TRA parent's that their Black children do not need to be subject to verbal or mental abuse simply to keep a grandparent happy. Just because you were raised with these beliefs doesn't mean we can't do better for the kids. Learning to develop a new pattern, or a new way of being with your family can be very painful, but it's pain with a purpose.


In terms of babysitting...do you believe your Black child is safe with your parents? After having an experience with your parents are their lots of explanations or apologies required? Do you feel that your child is made better by being around them? Perhaps it's the opposite, and if so do you feel like you are ready to teach the lesson that comes with being in their presence?


I understand that this is a tough position to be in, especially when your parents tell you that they adore your child. However, pay attention to the things they say and do in and out of your child's presence...

  • Do they make comments about your child's pretty skin, especially if it's lighter?

  • Do they tell you or your child their hair is difficult, and wish it was more manageable or even straight?

  • Do they use racial slurs around your children freely? Did they use them around you?

  • Do they make negative comments about people of color?

  • What are their views about the police and Black people?

  • Do they believe that there are people of color that threaten their view of America?

  • Do they believe people of various ethnicities should go back to where they came from?

  • Do they believe that there was a time when America was great (it has never been great for people of color)?

Some of their views may seem harmless to you, but you've been bathed in them, and now you have a Black child to raise, nurture and protect. Do you believe you do not carry any of your parent's beliefs? Do you also believe that you have the power to bring about change and create a better future for your child/children? Do you want to? If so, let's talk.



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