Last year I was blessed with two amazing gifts, a beautiful son joining our family at 2 months old and 1 month later a pregnancy! As you can imagine I spent most of the year planning, and sometimes freaking out! I decided though to be centered in the blessings of it. I wanted to be clear with myself and my children that they are blessings not burdens. The larger my belly got the more comments I received, often I was carrying a baby on my hip ushering my 6 year old and balancing the new roundness of my body. Yes 3 kids; a 6 year old, a 1 year old and now a 5 month old are a lot to balance. I want my children to be nourished by the size of our family not feel hindered. It is true that my children have to navigate things different because of our family make up, sometimes they don’t get picked up when they want to be held, sometimes they have to wait a few more minutes before getting breakfast,and sometimes I am more sleepy or frazzled than I would be with just one. There are challenges for sure, but people in the bay area react to our family as if we have 30 not 3 children. I mean the number of times people have said to me, “wow you have your hands full” I can’t even count! I mean calm down people! I wonder what my kids feel or internalize when they hear that. Do they hear Burden or blessing?
I find it so refreshing when people remind me of how many blessings I have received as the mom of these little people. I feel uplifted when someone refers to my children as blessings. If I were a runner, which I am not at all, running the most important race of my life I think it would be more helpful to be reminded of my ability to be successful and to appreciate the moment that I’m in rather than reminded of how hard it is to run a marathon! A supporter from the sidelines yelling out “damn that was a long 2 miles you must be hella tired go get um” just not the same pep talk as ” what a gift to have a body that can move and bend, enjoy this moment keep it up, your awesome!”
Raising beautiful little people in this world is work but what beautiful work! I intend to enjoy even the crazy moments. I intend to embrace these gifts with intention, fun, and hope. My hands aren’t full, my blessings are abundant!
Black Power Mix Tape, Directed by Goran Hugo Olsson got me thinking about how we talk about our heroes and heroines. This film provides the viewer an opportunity see people that have shaped he consciousness of thousands of Black people around the world. People from Martin Luther King to Stockley Carmicheal from Angela Davis to Loius Farakhann are depicted in a way that shows their humanness. They do not seem bullet proof they do not appear more noble than the rest of us, they are just people. The are shown speaking in a variety of settings, in the company of family members, and of course being fierce. It is interesting to contemplate what a difference more honest representation of who our heroes are might do for our children. Schools in particular hold our heroes up with such esteem that there isn’t always room for our heroes to be seen as human, like our children. In schools many of our children are taught about a few figure heads who created change Martin Luther King Jr and Barack Obama. We learn about one type of resistance, passive and one type of leader male. Our children need to see themselves as agents of change. They can not afford to wait for the next great leaders, a movement needs many parts all of which are leaders . What if we talked about all of the people who create change every day? When we think about the famous marches of MLK we don’t talk about the children who stood alongside him and risked their safety. Our children are not taught about Patrice Lamumba and Steven Biko as powerful members of a global resistance to White Supremacy. What if our children learned about Claudette Colvin who resisted bus segregation long before Rosa Parks or Angela Davis who was almost sentenced to the death penalty because this country was scared of a Black woman talking about liberation of her people. What if our children knew that the inspiration for the free breakfasts programs in many of our schools was the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast program which at the time put them squarely on the FBI’s most wanted list. What would the future of our children look like if their education included knowledge of all of the people that change this world. What if our children knew that creating change is not just in the hands of a few men but is about standing together in the face of something wrong and acting. What if our children knew that they were the next Black Power Mix Tape?
Another year, another fight at school. Just as we began to settle into our cozy new school life… wham like a bag of bricks we got hit in the face with how race, schools, and politics play out to impact our kids. So this school; which we choose because the over the top talk of love and care for each kid, the promise of creativity, and the hope of kids of color not being stifled rather supported in the development of their own critical analysis… this school has allowed a white child to spit on my baby. Really??? and then to add insult to injury no one did anything Really? so… care for black kids means you get to be target practice for white kids learning to use their spitting techniques, ooooh my mistake I thought it meant you would do anything to protect and nurture her. fuckers, I mean really fuckers! In the past week I have had to explain to white folks why this is an issue more than just this kid made a bad choice, it is… this kid spit on two black girls, in the hair… IN THEIR HAIR! what??? and how their inaction was reinforcement of this being acceptable…I have also had to remind them that there is quite a long historical legacy of black folks being spit on, and humiliated while well meaning folks did nothing, their inaction played directly into this context. This inaction in the light of many black kids being promptly sent to the office for discipline for minor issues, my child included. let a grown person do that to me… let a grown person do that to any of them guaranteed take it to the streets time. But my child is suppose to take it and I am suppose to be quiet hell no! let me say it again HELL NO! they let my baby go home with spit in her hair and no consequences for this little boy. I was beyond pissed and so were many other parents, this was a manifestation of their fears, of how this school despite all the talk was not ready to deal with the realities of diversity, and what that means for the kids of color. The good intentions of the school blinded them to the fact that often diversity means white kids learning how to behave at the expense of black, brown, and asian kids.
In response I reacted, reacted like I never have. I went into mama lion mode and took no prisoners! I told it like it was, I spoke my truth and the truth of many silenced people of color. I was so inspired to see so many other parents do the same and not feel ashamed about standing up for their children, being bold about their demands for the rights of all of our kids to have a school that is safe, creative, inspiring, and in tuned with the needs of our kids. I can not say that as a result the school was completely transformed, but I can say that we won a small victory in this battle. Staffing changes, policy changes, and the demotion of the class teacher were all a result of parents saying HELL NO! I am so proud to have been one of them… and the fight continues!
barb wire tied
…throw in water
(maybe he was dead already? but)
the sound, the sound of
-Crunk Feminist Collection on approaching the anniversary of Emmet Till’s death