To Black Parents Everywhere,
As we write this, we want to acknowledge that we are overwhelmed. For Tunette, married and mother of three young sons, it’s just too much testosterone. For Tonikiaa, married and mother of two teenage daughters, it’s just too much estrogen. The kids are arguing. The house refuses to clean itself. The question of what’s for dinner has become fighting words. And as schools are back in session and as we continue to parent in a pandemic and the racial pandemic within the pandemic, it feels like the walls are closing in; like the demands of us, as Black parents, are greater than ever before. We have to manage the everyday stresses and challenges of parenting in a pandemic. But we also have to prepare our children to move and take their place in a world that never wanted them to survive in the first place.
As the first educators of our children, there is no denying the heaviness and magnitude of what is needed to prepare our children to survive in this world. Being a Black parent is heartbreaking at times because we know what our children have to endure. We continue to move our children forward as we make space and put up force shields for them as institutions that boast good intentions continue to use coded words to describe our children that are dehumanizing. But we can’t be contained; our ancestors have been doing this for too long. What we teach is not taught in school. When the world describes us as absent, not interested, or just a bit “too much,” it is precisely in those moments that we provide our Black children with the tools and strategies to protect their mind from the misinformation of who they are and where they come from.
Dr. Tonikiaa Orange
Dr. Orange serves as the director for the Culture & Equity Project.
Dr. Tunette Powell
Dr. Powell, who is also at UCLA, oversees the UCLA Parent Empowerment Project.
…we can’t be contained; our ancestors have been doing this for too long.
- To watch you is exhilarating.
- How you teach Black children to move and take their place in this world.
- To hear you is inspiring.
Your words provide the nourishment Black children use to demand their identity and culture be front and center in spaces that often take their gifts and claim them as their own. To feel your passion in your touch, in your tone, and in your facial expressions showcases the struggle. It showcases the hope that Black children need to feed their mind, body, and soul to walk unapologetically in their magnificence.
- You did that. We did that.
We often forget the messages and lessons we provide to our children every day. These messages of how to navigate and resist racism and anti-Blackness are required for our children to navigate the oppressive systems they encounter every day. We have produced beautiful people who continue to bless educational spaces and those around them with the ability to move with grace.
And so, no matter where you are in this moment – whether you’re overwhelmed like us or grappling with the decision to send your child back to school in person versus remotely or feeling guilty because you’re an essential worker who can’t be at home as much as you want to – we want you to know, you are loved. For debunking negative people, systems and stereotypes, you are loved. For knowing when to use your voice for calm and your Black mama and daddy voice for power and persuasion, you are loved. For being an advocate, protector and I wish someone would, you are loved. For being our first educators, the best role models and showing us how to love ourselves in this anti-black world, you are loved. And even on the worst days, when the ways of the world force you to second guess yourself, when it all seems too much, may you remember, you are loved.
Tonikiaa and Tunette