Let Black Children Sleep

For now, my child is a child. He’s mostly unaware of the violence against his own people. I remember him asking why I was meeting with faith leaders and the police department (he had a tinge of fear in his voice) and I told him it was to make sure they were on their best behavior.

As his mother it’s my job to protect him from experiencing trauma due to racism as best as I can. It’s my job to assess what his curious beautiful mind can handle (and because I know he has a propensity to worry about me).

If I take him to a protest he is surrounded by his community in love. That’s been my experience with any protest. They have always been Black kid friendly. Black parents know when things are getting tense and it’s time to exit stage left. He’s marched to the beat of his heart and the voices of his village lamenting and demanding justice. We don’t have the news running 24/7 in our household. It’s too traumatic. No news at all actually.

Angel Taylor age 11, PRIDE parade, Sacramento Ca. 2019

After all, when you look at white kids that’s all we’ve been taught to see and protect. Black children deserve the same privilege. I don’t think white kids should suffer, and I don’t think they should be coddled either. The coddling of the white race is why we have so many unhinged and violent people now, holding undeserved wealth and power over Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; leading corporations and entire countries they don’t have the emotional intelligence or character to lead.

If my kids have to learn about racism, then so do yours. We are still having this conversation 400 years after the fact because white parents are not teaching their kids. So now’s your chance to break the cycle.

Be an example. Show compassion and generosity to Black people in front of your kids, show humility in addressing your own racism in front of your kids, and speak highly of Black people in front of your kids. If any of these things do not come natural to you, it’s because more practice is needed. I’ve found that people are great at talking about racism as theory but have failed at application and praxis. Imagine going to medical school only to sit online and talk about being a doctor.

Dismantle white supremacy in your households. If all you and your kids watch on tv are white people… that’s a problem. Decolonize the art, books, food, toys, and holidays in your home. Stop taking up so much space on school boards and PTAs. Support the most vulnerable in your child’s school. Use your privilege to back up Black mothers’ voices. Pay for some school lunches and don’t tell anyone. Make sure Black Student Union groups are being supported. Listen. To. Black. Mothers. And then get out the way. Let us parent.

My son understands Black pride, he understands our language, our culture and that there has been suffering involved in being a Black person, but, our suffering is not the pinnacle of what he knows about his Blackness. It’s also unspeakable joy, art, laughter, food, family, faith, and music. He loves nature. But one day, when he’s old enough, and he learns about the pain, the carnage, the genocide, and the disregard for life; he will mourn, he will lament, and he will weep. And on that day I’ll be there to hold him and teach him about the Black prophets who gave me courage and the Black writers who nursed me back to life with their audacity to have hope in the face of imperialistic swine and white supremacy.

So until y’all give me something to offer him that’s not steeped in white supremacy, turmoil, agony and death it’s nothing but PJ Masks, ice cream sandwiches, and basketball hooping going on over here. This is what Black children deserve. Let them sleep.

Elika Bernard is a communications expert, skilled orator, and prolific writer with an extensive history in the visual and performing arts.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store