Let me give y’all a little backstory on ya girl JPink, so you know where I’m coming from. For the record, I didn’t become woke last night when some hotep slid in my inbox; and I didn’t discover my blackness last week when some wanna be Angela Davis chick greeted me with a fist in the air.
Nah. For the kid, my woke story started back when I was a young warthog–elementary school, to be exact. I went to Marcus Garvey Elementary in Los Angeles–a private Black school that is militant AF. They taught us Swahili and Spanish at the same damn time. I was doing Calculus in 6th grade while learning the truth about American chattel slavery and my ethnic and racial lineage.
(Hey, real talk: one of the things I learned is that we all weren’t Kings and Queens! You can see it in some of y’all habits; some of y’all peoples tended to the stables and kept the grounds. You do not act as the descendants of kings and queens would act, even with knowledge of self. But I digress)
Becoming well versed in my history and my ancestors at such a young age embedded wokeness into my essence and my soul. It was so much a part of me, so much an essential part of my persona, that not only did I NOT know that I was woke, but I was rarely even aware that everyone else wasn’t! There are very few things Hoteps can throw at me that I wouldn’t correct with the actual factual.
However, I gotta say that it wasn’t until my thirties that I really began to fully embrace my melanated world, truly accepting all that is within me. But this was more from me deciding to shatter all of the boxes that non-melanated American culture attempted to place all of us in, more than me claiming to be “woke.”
I think that the biggest conundrum that I have, in wanting to instill a true sense of black pride in my children, is that I don’t want or need folks thinking we hate white people. We do not, at all, on any level, hate white people.
So no, I don’t teach “hate whitey” to my kids, in any way, EVER; but what I will do is be open and honest with them about what white supremacy did long ago, what white supremacy did yesterday, and what white supremacy is doing today.
For example, I am constantly showing them the microaggressions that we as black people face daily; all the while showing them that this doesn’t mean that ALL white people act this way.
What I won’t allow to go unchecked, however, is this: each and every time there’s an ALL Black online community created, or there is Black pride product, or some Black event; inevitably, here comes some white person with #AllLivesMatter–as if we are choosing ours lives over theirs even though it sure feels like that’s what they have been doing to us since forever.
Although I live in the Black Mecca–, better known as, “Metro Atlanta–” racism is alive and well here, in a major way. Coming from a life in Southern California, where racism and white supremacy are way less blatant than here in the Dirty Dirty, it caught me by surprise, if I’m being honest. I had never seen racism displayed in such an overt manner.
I remember one instance in Dollar General where the clerk refused to take money directly from my hand. There’s all the Confederate Flags waving proudly on the lawns of several folks and of course the Trump supporters campaigning from the backs of old pickup trucks on “Making America Great Again” (like there was a great time for us) while flying that same confederate flag; that Jawjah racism is a current strain than that Cali casual blend!
Therefore, because racism is so prevalent here, I make sure I’m always talking to them; always feeding them the truth and knowledge about their greatness–but I still struggle with the question of am I making them more of a target through this awareness?
My teenage daughter is the bane of my existence for many reasons, but lately it’s been her disdain for my #MelaninPride. She hates the fact that I make her find a black business to support over the Kardashians. She feels like I’m #TeamDoingTooMuch when I prefer her Black characters over the others for her t-shirt line. She wishes I would not have to use ONLY black people in my marketing, because the pictures are harder to find.
But guess what? I don’t care. I know it bugs her now, but I also know that later–when she’s twenty or thirty, maybe–she will overstand; especially when she has her own kids. I can deal with her for now.
My greatest fear, though, is this: every single time that I open my mouth to educate my children, I worry about what happens when they repeat it to others. Every day when I send them to school here in the South, I pray I don’t get a phone call that they knocked somebody tf out for calling them a n**ga (unfortunately yes: this has happened already). This is the fear I have, that instead of creating Woke Warriors I could be making Melanin Monsters!
But then, I see that my daughter loves her natural curls, and that she loves the skin that she’s in–and it is easily all worth it. I see my so-called mixed son (white supremacy doesn’t see us as mixed; remember that one-drop theory?), wanting to know more and understand his African heritage; and I then feel like I’m doing something right. I see my youngest two children, and I see that they do embody that Black Boy Joy and that Black Girl Magic–and then I proudly say eff all the worries! When I get done with them, these kids finnah be WOKE woke–just like they Mama!
And yes, I said “finnah” and “just like they Mama.” Those are called cultural and ethnic colloquialisms. Judge yo mama, not me.