Being racialized parents in a country built on the blood and sweat of Black enslaved people means unpacking how oppression shows up in our parenting. It means acknowledging that sometimes, it shows up in ways that perpetuate white supremacy and center whiteness...particularly, the white gaze.
What is the white gaze? Because of white supremacy, whiteness is not just a process or a race, or a pervading social construct...it is a centralized identity which all other identities are measured against. A key tactic in colonization is to portray Black culture as negative and irrelevant. This idea that white is right and Black is inferior has become engrained in many of us, so we twist ourselves into pretzels trying to assimilate and conform to colonizer standards. We are aware of it in the corporate world where our natural hair is constantly under attack and we feel forced to straighten our naturally curly hair or and in schools where kids are forced to code-switch in order to be seen as intelligent or "not like those other black people" by school administrators. And it shows up in our parenting. I've personally heard black parents say, "don't get out here acting up in front of these white people!" to their children. What message does that send to our kids? How might the white gaze impact how you perceive your kid's behavior and the choices you make when disciplining them? And most importantly, who benefits when whiteness is centered in our parenting? Raising liberated, carefree black children means casting away the proverbial chains of the white gaze and not being consumed by or concerned with how your actions are perceived. Why is this important? Because your choice to center whiteness or not will impact your parenting and ultimately, how your children will perceive themselves.
In this episode, I chat with my friend and Co-Founder of Conscious Parenting Time, an online destination for Black parents to learn more about conscious parenting, Crystal Stampley. Crystal is a Certified Conscious Parenting and Positive Discipline Coach, plus mom to three amazing kids and wife to a loving husband. As mothers to Black children, both Crystal and I are very intentional about centering blackness in our homes and modeling racial pride and antiracism.
During the show, Crystal and break down:
The various ways parents may be centering whiteness
Why teaching about and modeling racial pride is important
Why it's so important to watch how we speak about other Black people
The inherent antiblackness of respectability politics
How to speak to your children about racism and what to do if they are called a racial slur
How maintaining open communication can help guide your child through these life lessons
"When we are raising our children to fit into a box that they were never meant to be put into anyway, it diminishes and stunts their growth..."
The more I learn about decolonizing my mindset, the more I realize how much work needs to be done in order to unlearn generations of programming. Raising my consciousness around the insidiousness of colonization, how it has permeated many of our minds, and the damage it has done to the Black community is the first step to healing. White people are not the problem, white supremacy and the idea of whiteness is. We have a responsibility to our children to de-center the white gaze in our parenting, so take some time to think about the last time you found yourself triggered by your child's behavior and really dig deep to ask yourself the underlying reason for that. What's at the core of that anger? Embarrassment? Pride? Fear? Why are those emotions present. Unpack ya'll...you gotta know why you react the way you do to certain things in order to change your reaction. Make sure to speak words of affirmation and love over your children. And make home their safe space, where Blackness is celebrated and centered.
Thank you so much for listening to another episode of Parenting Decolonized. Please help spread the word about the show by sharing on your social media pages or leaving a rating/review. I really appreciate it when ya'll send me feedback, so please don't hesitate to slide in my DM and let me know how you feel...good or bad. I'm always open to learning and growing.
Until next time fam!