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This story is about Amy Bell Guidance for Parents column, which airs on CBC Radio One’s Early Edition.
Mall security guards follow their children around malls, assuming they come from broken homes, and even get picked last in school gyms.
All of these are the lived experiences of parents of Black children, full of unique concerns and social issues, which require a different kind of upbringing and social support.
It’s something that’s often on the mind of Tanya Hayles, the founder of Connecting Black Motherswhich strives to increase the social, emotional and financial well-being of Black families.
He said that even though he lives in a prosperous and diverse place like BC, he still needs a parent in a different way.
“I can’t raise my son in the world I want him to inherit, I have to raise my son in the world he lives in right now, and the world he lives in right now has mall security guards going after little Black boys thinking they’re thieves. .
“Those are the facts. I can pretend to ignore them or hope they will get better, but I will be doing him down”.
‘I want to prepare him for a difficult world’
But there is a price for giving up that amount of emotional energy and vigilance. Hayles says he’s not starting to be as soft or sweet as he’d like to be as a parent.
“I’m a cruel mother, and I don’t want to be. I want to prepare him for a difficult world, but I have to be his bottom. I don’t think I have enough balance there. .”
For Black children, it can be difficult if they are seen as different from their peers for any reason. Black students in many schools in the state are a minority, and not seeing themselves or their history represented in the curriculum is also a problem.
Denise Nana-yaa Obuobi remembers when her now 18-year-old daughter started kindergarten in East Vancouver. Despite attending a very segregated school, he was still one of the few Black children, just like Obuobi growing up in Edmonton.
“Little by little I started to see him being nominated,” Obuobi recalled. “It just comes naturally to a person. We just related to each other and looked the same. You end up being selected for the dodgeball team, that’s how it is.”
It was painful for Obuobi to see his daughter struggling, despite his efforts to keep her surrounded by a safe community and instill pride in her heritage.
“I was doing everything I could outside of school to build a foundation and provide. I felt guilty that I couldn’t comfort him or be there for him. I knew he had no representation.
‘What if it’s not enough?’
What about non-Black parents of Black children? How does that affect their parents?
Being a white parent usually means you have rights that your Black children will not have. CJ SmithThe single mother of two daughters, one of whom is Black, says she is very aware that her children are treated differently, especially when it comes to complimenting or criticizing the way they look, such as their hair type.
As their mother, she works diligently to educate them about issues of racism and solidarity. As a white woman, she’s worried that she’s still going to talk about bias and I don’t even know she’s holding back.
“What if my life experience of being in a white body and the anti-racism education I get from black teachers, and the activism I do in the world, what if it is not enough to help my daughter to walk in society. the injustice of systematic racism?”
For Alexandra Skinner, being a young, single mother of two Black sons 20 years ago, many assumed her sons’ Black father was out of the picture, but he was very involved and supportive, as was his family. Skinner often felt his boys and he were held to a different standard academically and socially than their white peers.
“It’s hard to say that my defense of our family, whether it was the black factor or the single mother factor, came first. Everything was combined,” said Skinner.
“I think as a young mother and a young mother of mixed Black children, I felt like I had to try harder. I felt like I needed to prove that my family and I were as valid as anyone else.
All children need to be kept safe and supported throughout their lives, but Black children need more of everyone. Join them and see how you can help, whether it’s looking after children or wanting more representation in schools.
Black parents are not the only ones dedicated to their safety and success. It is everyone’s job. But it will only happen if we all examine our own biases and shortcomings and acknowledge the racism and violence that still exists against Black people.
For more stories about the experiences of black Canadians – from anti-Black discrimination to success stories in the Black community – check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.