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'It's a wave of emotions': Black moms and dads speak about what parenthood means to them

Black voices - parenthood
Posted at 2:27 PM, Jan 31, 2022

ATLANTA — What is it like to raise a Black child in 2022?

We found numerous different answers, but one thing resonated throughout: pride.

We interviewed Black moms and dads from across America and asked, quite simply, "What does it mean to be a Black parent in 2022?" Here is a sample of what they said:

Jazmine Price, mother of Sarah

“It’s important for me to teach my baby what is not taught in schools. I want to make sure she knows that we were more than slaves. It’s 2022, and we’re still living in a time where we’re trying to fight for our freedom.

“She was five, and someone in school told her that police kill Black men. I was devastated that this had to be a conversation this early. For me, it's Just teaching her the differences between her and other people - and letting her know that there are differences and that they are OK. You gotta reinforce it constantly.

“When I hear white people say, ‘I don’t see color,’ it’s like … how not?!?” There's nothing wrong with acknowledging our colors, our differences, our hair textures … it’s all different, and it’s OK."

Hakemia Jackson, mother of three

“So, what is it like being a Black parent in 2022? I think it’s very complex.

"We're raising our three children into Black excellence. I call them my three beautiful Brown crowns.

“Despite what we see in the world, we know what we’re teaching them is to not be of the world. We lead very much so with our faith. We are constantly reminding your children of their excellence, despite the manipulation of what they’re seeing.

“Black excellence comes with a uniqueness of understanding how to use your culture to advance in this world that tells you otherwise. It's how to use your culture in a way that you are not pushed to the side. You elevate to another level. Instead of looking at themselves as different, we want them to look at themselves as unique.

“If she’s playing on the playground with one of my white brothers and sisters, she’s like, ‘Why doesn’t this person want to play with me?’ And it doesn’t happen all the time, but I have to educate her. We don’t walk about the world with our hands balled up. We walk about the world with our hands extended out.”

Khadijah Vigil, mother of Jaya

“I want to make sure that I teach her to love her hair, love her skin, love all the things society has normalized to be European-standard. America has a tendency of whitewashing standards of beauty and other things, and it’s important that we ingrain the love for ourselves first.

"I’ve nannied for white families, and it’s really been my responsibility to educate them on this. It’s important for white families to educate their children about what happened and what their people did. Their family made mistakes. A lot of white kids and parents don’t deal with the things Black kids and Black parents deal with about schooling, about friendship, about circles of opportunity and things like that."

Auzhone Robinson, mother of Yumara

“We don’t always have those conversations about the challenges and the challenges and the struggle and struggle, because it’s not always that. It’s not always about the challenges. It’s not always about the struggle.

“We talk about it. She knows about it. But she also knows that that’s not something that’s going to stop her from doing what she needs to do.

“She knows that she’s smart, that she’s brilliant. She knows that she’s a queen. She knows that she’s powerful with who he is. She knows these things. And that’s what sticks into her heart. That’s what she carries."

Phillice Gregory, mother of Phillip

“The first thing that comes to mind is pride. I love being a mom, but it’s even more important that I’m a Black mom, because I stand behind so many ancestors that have paved the way and bring so much culture and background that I can share with my son.

“When we started our school, he was four years old. We all know what happened in 2014: Mike Brown. My son is going to be tall. He is going to be thick. The fear immediately set in: how do I train myself to be a better parent in this environment, and how do I teach myself to shield him from things that may affect his future?

“It frightens them when you expose them to things they’re not ready for, and my son is a child that asks a lot of questions. You can’t just say, ‘Don’t put your hands in your pocket when you’re walking.’ He’ll come with, ‘Why can’t I put my hands in my pocket?’ I have to be as transparent as I can, and he leads the conversation with those questions.

“You can’t just throw your son out in the woods and think he’s going to adapt because he’s black. No, you have to put in the time and effort to give him the tools that he needs if you’re going to put him in environments that don’t reflect how he looks. We’re prideful no matter who accepts us. We validate ourselves, and that’s where I stand with things.

"I want him to see 80 like his grandfather. His grandfather lived till he was 80 years old. That is so abnormal for African-American men. That is so abnormal. And I want him to see that. That’s my prayer. That is my prayer every day. I want my son to see a long life.”

Jami Dolby, mother of Cole

“It’s an amazing experience. But as a Black mother, raising my child in this everlasting pandemic of health disparities and social justice disparities, I know that my work is never not done. I’m always on. I’m almost always advocating. And I have to always be present for my son.

“It wasn’t until I had my own child that I realized that I had to make some hard choices. It clicked when it came time to choose my child’s education, and looking at the make-up of my child’s school. We want the best for our kids. Unfortunately, sometimes the best – when it comes to safety and housing and education – you’re sacrificing something that’s very important like community.

“There’s joy in knowing there’s still some innocence in him. Because as a Black mother, raising a Black boy, we know there’s times where society doesn’t see him as innocent anymore. He recognizes he is the only Black boy in his classroom. And he knows it shouldn’t be like that.

“I can handle any look. I can handle any comment. But it is something that is different when you are frightened for your child. We’re scared for them. They’re not scared of you. We’re scared that outside of Black America, how is my son going to be looked at by those who are not in his village?

“The best compliment I always receive about my son is he’s respectful and he’s kind. I want that to be protected.”