LEARNING TO QUESTION/HATE/DISLIKE SELF — AFTER 1460 DAYS OF LIFE. THE DILEMMAS OF BLACK AND HISPANIC CHILDREN.
The beginning of August is a iife-changing event for all children; they are now entering formal education for 13 years. I am reflecting on what life holds for our babies who are leaving our arms and homes for the next for several hours. We send them off to school and look for them to return every day doing something new, sharing how much they enjoyed the day. Unfortunately, this dream and ideal may be short lived.
Fundamentally, the safest place for our children is in our arms and our homes. For 6 years (1460 days), we devote our lives to raising and teaching our children — our beautiful, brilliant, vibrant Black/Brown children to love themselves, as God made them. Dark skin. Light skin. Short hair. Long hair. Curly hair. Thick hair. Short. Tall. Slim. Husky…. and so on. And we may need to work harder when there are extremes, like very thick hair, very light skin, very tall (for girl), a special education need, a need for more challenge (e.g., gifted), and so on.
We talk and we tell stories to help our children love themselves; to brace and armor them for the harsh realities of the world and schools, which reflect society. And, as concerned caregivers, we model as best we can (for many of us have become damaged) self-love and racial price. If we are effective models, we may not have to say much. We do much. We use multicultural books with our sons and daughters, we buy dolls that look like our children (when they exist), we monitor social media, and we expose our precious babies to other children who don’t notice or care that they look ‘different’. Young children are innocent. Unlike adults, they are often colorblind in the purest sense.
I think about the above as hundreds of thousands of Black and Hispanic/Latino begin their first day of school. I think about many who, within ONE week, come home not liking their skin color, hair texture, hair length….who are admonished for being ‘too active, too talkative, too social/extroverted, too inquisitive’…. too this and too that. Too many (and one is too many) come home wanting longer hair, wanting lighter skin, and saying kids and/or teachers were mean. The 1460 days of all of our hard work is unraveling…
We/you have devoted 1460 days to helping our babies leave our arms and homes 5 days a week for 13 years. Just as you protected them the first 6 years, you must continue to do so until they graduate from school. Our responsibilities are not over! We are our children’s first and forever teachers. We are their first and forever role models and mentors!