A chat with Black Moms Connection founder Tanya Hayles

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Tanya Hayles, Founder, Black Moms Connection

When the boy child was 5 years old, he called me ‘Blackie’ and proudly told me that his friend from school told him that ‘Blackie’ was another word for Black people.  To say I was shocked, upset, angry was an understatement.

That moment, that time the boy child called my a racial slur, was my awakening.   Aside from the racial slur, this was the period when the boy child decided he didn’t want to be black, that he wanted blond straight hair. It was the time he would cry anytime I came near his head with a comb.  It was also the summer I had to explain to a crying six year old that no, he couldn’t have the toy gun that someone had bought him for his birthday, because a little boy named Tamir Rice had just been killed, playing with a toy gun in a park.  And, it was the summer that I was kicked out of a mainstream moms group because I was looking for support and asked if any other Black moms wanted to connect. Despite all this…it was the summer I found my village…Black Moms Connection.

In the season 2 finale of the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast, I chat with the founder of the Black Moms Connection group, Tanya Hayles about all things Black Motherhood….and Black Panther…just because.

Subscribe to the Woke Mommy Chatter podcast anywhere you get your podcasts.

iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/po…/wokemommychatter/id1293971353

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SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/wokem

 

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