3rd Generation from a Black American Slave


[photo credit to A.Demetrius Payne]

Parenting as a 2nd generation college attendee and being the 3rd generation from American chattel slavery is NO easy feat.

Yeah, I attended and graduated from university, which means I moved up slightly in regards to upward mobility. (… because I grew up below the poverty line …) I moved up a smidge, but I am still working class poor. Divorce decimated me. Marriages help you build societal mobility to some respect and being a divorced Black American woman – the deck is stacked against you. Three-fold.

What I find daunting is that my child will never know the anguish, danger,  and social pains of poverty – so how then do I instill the values of education as mandatory and hard work as critical to success? I was motivated to get out of poverty in Chicago because I had no safety net. There was no fiscal or emotional support system for me. You either sank or you got yo’ ass up to swim. Right now… teaching my child the struggles I faced as a Black American, this alone has got me emotionally treading water.

I realize that the Black experience is not monolithic and my child’s Blackness is very different from my own. Daily I have to re-evaluate what the Black American experience means to various people.

As a good, astute and loving Black American parent, I have to instill the value of hard work, a good education and standing on your own. As a person of color, biracial, monoracial, immigrant – if my child doesn’t learn these things – she will be quickly ushered into poverty and could possibly never find the way out. That’s my nightmare. That’s my fear.  When you don’t grow up impoverished and then you are thrown to the wolves, you don’t have the tools to escape. You don’t have the tools or moxie to adapt.

Being Black American in America is still a heart-breaking, perilous, financially uncertain journey and most of us take that journey without a proper support system and foundation.

As a Black American parent, the great-grand daughter of a slave woman … I know society is rigged against my child. The one drop rule coupled with systematic racism and social injustice makes being a person of color in America a hard way of life, from birth to the casket. I want to give my child the tools to win at life, to enjoy humanity regardless of those who do not value it,  and to soar above the skies.

I want my child to be able to do whatever it is that brings joy to her life. I want there to be beloved experiences in her life. I want my child to live the best life God and the universe bestows… and not just keep treading above water — like me.

This is my challenge, 3 generations out of slavery… parenting while trying to make sure  that my and my child’s humanity in tact is a balance of prayer, determination and fear.