I do. I Love Black Women.
Let me tell you why that matters to you as a parent.
When I was 5 years old my 16 year old brother died in a car accident. It broke my family in a way that even 35 years later we still don’t understand. My Mother disappeared into her bedroom, my brother went to school, my Father worked 14 hour days and there was me, a little girl in a state of utter dismay. That’s when 2 neighbors entered my life and forever changed me. Although I was not to know they did for another 26 years.
Mrs. Beulah walked in our front door bold as brass with no knock or invitation. She cleaned, she cooked, she dressed me and brushed my hair. And then we would sit at the table and talk over a cup of coffee(2 tblspns coffee, 2 tblspns sugar, 1 cup milk). And when Mrs. Beulah didn’t come, Mrs. Ivory would. I don’t remember a great deal about her, but I remember her laughter, which she offered up constantly. Her whole body would shake in perfect rhythm to each lilt of her mirth. Then came the moment when all her glee would explode, she would open her mouth wide to let it roar and show a mouth full of gold teeth. To me, she shimmered and glittered.
Flash forward 26 years.
I came home to tell my Husband I just met the loveliest woman and I was completely besotted. As I prattled on about all her many virtues he interrupted me to ask “was she black?” I stopped dead. Had I said something that would lead him to think that, why would he ask, did it matter? I was confused and taken aback. Because she was.
You see, I don’t fall in love with people. I socialize out of interest in their differences, not necessarily to make bosom buddies. I’m not antisocial per say, but I usually don’t take the time to allow myself to feel a connection. I’m careful with my feelings and seldom jump in a friendship. My husband knew this about me, but he had also noticed an exception.
And then he asked me this “Who is the first black woman you remember?” As I sat there recounting my tales of Mrs. Beulah and Mrs. Ivory, I began to feel the love and warmth they imparted. I felt the laughter that filled our home when there had been none for so long. I felt the earnest and open listening and understanding that was handed me when no one had been listening before. How could I have missed this about myself? He was right, if I met a black woman, all shields were down.
This is not a story of race or family tragedy.
It is a story to remind myself and all parents, we can not know who or what will imprint on our children or in what way it will affect them…for the rest of their lives. Even though these women only spent a few months in my daily life, they managed to inspire a lifetime of positive relationships. But it got me thinking, what about all the other experiences that weren’t positive? What other hidden tendencies are related to the negative?
This is why our choices to educate outside the home should be scrutinized from every angle. For 9 months, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day someone else will be in charge of our children’s experiences. Educators and school chums can offer bright and positive experiences. But they can also offer something else.
One bad teacher, one sad abused classmate, or one non caring principal could change our children permanently. I know what your thinking, “I had bad teachers and bullies and it didn’t effect me at all.”
My question is this…