There’s nothing wrong with being proud to be black

So apparently black pride is a threat the FBI feels the need to name and deal with. I know some people hate the term Woke. It’s overused. It’s also used in the wrong context and yes it’s become commercialized. I’m sure you’ve seen the t-shirts. But despite that I still like it. And for me at least, it truly describes my experience. I’ve always been proud to be black. I was raised to know and appreciate my history, but even so I feel like I’ve spent most of my life apologizing for my blackness. And I don’t mean feeling bad about being black, I mean apologizing in the sense of toning down who I am so that other people (white people) feel comfortable around me.

That has meant code switching, speaking differently, talking about race, black issues and ‘keeping it real’ only with my black family and friends- for everyone else it was surface discussions, smile, don’t talk about politics, don’t talk about race, don’t get angry (you don’t want to be the angry black women), don’t conform to any black stereotype they may have. Don’t call out blatant or subtle racism. Ignore it, second guess it, maybe it’s not what you think. Smile and engage when they ask about your hair.

But having children has changed this for me. I don’t want my kids to live like that. I don’t want them to divorce their race from who they are in order to live in a mainstream world. I want them to be unapologetic in their blackness.

My Woke moment came last year, in the midst of all the black lives being taken by police force, my son was grappling with his own identity and I realized that we had to do things differently. We had to talk about race, because there was no getting away from it. There’s no transcending it- and that is OK. The point is you don’t need to transcend it.

I’m going to talk about being black, I’m going to surround myself with black people. Yes, on occasion I self- segregate and I do that for my own mental health, because dealing with consistent micro-aggressions can be draining. I want to build a career that will help improve the lives of black people.

I want my kids to have black friends, I want my daughter to go to a black dance school, because I want her to feel comfortable in her body, in her skin and I would like for there to be one place, where she isn’t different, where she doesn’t have to worry that her hair won’t be ‘flat enough.’ I want to find a black scouts group for my son, because I want him to feel confident in who he is and be around others that look like him. If I could, I would send my children to an all black school that can cater to their specific needs and build them into the resilient people that they will need to be to survive this world. Because in our society, there are so few spaces where they can truly be accepted as they are. That doesn’t mean I don’t like white people. It doesn’t mean I don’t like my white friends anymore. It doesn’t mean I don’t value the friendships my children have made with kids of other races. It doesn’t mean any of that.

What it means is that I no longer care to make other people comfortable at my expense. What it means is that my comfort, my well being and that of people like me is now a priority. And that doesn’t make me an extremists. But my pride in being black is what makes me and others like me, whose eyes are open, who are unapologetic in their blackness…a threat. Because we are no longer playing the game. Because we no longer have the patience for understanding. Because we no longer care whether others feel comfortable with who we are. Because we are putting black first. Because we are betting on black and shopping black and rooting for black and living black proudly and loudly. And that’s a threat.

http://www.theroot.com/fbi-launches-cointelpro-2-0-targeting-black-identity-ex-1819222532?rev=1507315003716&utm_source=theroot_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

Woke Mommy’s Top 2016 moments….

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2016 sucked and not just because that is the general consensus, but because it truly did.

Personally it’s been a year of transition for me. We started 2016 in a new home, in a new town, that still doesn’t quite feel like home. The DH started 2016 in a new job that’s really enlightened us on the value of family time and balance.The little madam is growing up and is truly not a baby anymore. The boy child left kindergarten behind and started grade 1.

On the world stage, this was the year that the randomness and fear of terror attacks truly hit the western world with the attacks in Brussels and Paris.

Then there was  Syria and  the baby Alan Kurdi, whose tiny little body, washed up on a beach and shocked the world out of complacency.

There was the Dakota pipeline and the beauty of defiance.

There was Brexit and the racist vitriol of that campaign that culminated with the murder of British Member of Parliament Jo Cox.

And there was Trump, and death, and more Trump and more death.

But what really defined 2016 for me, what galvanized me to start this blog was the shooting after shooting of black and brown unarmed men in the United States and the denial of the existence of racism, the nonsense of colour blindness and the comments after comments that refused to accept that systemic racism exists and impacts decisions, both in the US and in Canada.

I realized, through many of those conversations, that I was part of the problem, because my experiences, or the challenges my kids faced because of their race, was not something I discussed openly, but instead was something I saved for my black Facebook groups, or to discuss with black family and friends. No wonder people think racism doesn’t exist!.  So in a way 2016 gave me a voice.    This blog has truly been a gift ( a much much more time consuming gift than I thought, but a gift non the less;))

So 2016 wasn’t all bad….here are a few more of my highlights:

1. Lemonade!  This album just defined 2016 for me.   Beyoncé was everything this year.  I was NEVER a fan. I thought she was shallow and fake and well, silent.  But I was wrong…and from the moment she blasted onto that Superbowl field in that  black panther outfit,with all those beautiful black women behind her, I was converted.  Then there was the visual album, which was just beautiful and unapologetically black and just magic.

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2. Angela Rye.…because she said what every black person in the western world was thinking and she said it loud and proud on national TV.

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3. Jesse Williams at the BET awards- Black women are always the first to jump to stand up to injustice and defend and fight for black men, but sometimes that isn’t reciprocated, and here was a black man who acknowledged that and told the world… and it was nice…and well, vindicating

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4. Solange…this was also the year of Solange. She’s so woke, she was woke before anyone else even opened their eyes and I can bet she’s the one who breathed life into Beyoncé…. her album, A seat at the Table was magic.  4 words…’Don’t Touch My Hair’

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5. Trudeau.  Trudeau. Trudeau.  He’s North America’s only hope now.  Enough said.

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6.  Colin Kaepernick: Because it’s one thing to recognize injustice, but to  fight and protest against it, by putting your own career at risk, is truly heroic.

Colin Kaepernick protest

So 2016 wasn’t all bad, but I am still hoping that 2017 will be better.  Happy New Year Woke Peeps.  See you on the other side!

2017