Hello there, Mademoiselle Woo here with Faithfully Madame. I decided since it is the last week of February, I would do a blog centered around a topic I came up with awhile back. Asking the question, when do you introduce the history of the Civil Rights movement to your child? Explaining to your child how the world sees them, how they should see themselves, addressing stereotypes, and generational curses. I never had this conversation with my parents. When I was 14, I remember my Dad introducing me to a book called The Mis-education of the Negro. At the time this way of thinking was not something I could bring myself to agree with. The reason being, I believed too much in the good vs evil idea. Believing the good of mankind would prevail and the past as well in the past. Just because you wish for something to be true does not make it so. During my revolution phase, at least that is what I am calling it, I came across a social media discussion on the position of the Black People in America. I was told that I was romanticizing the Black peoples’ History. I was told my level of understanding was stopping from realizing that we were at war. War?
We all know I love a good definition. Today I wanted to share with you the definition of civil rights. Civil Rights are the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality. There have been plenty of fights for civil rights in the Americas. The History of the Black people did not begin until their emancipation. I know others would disagree with me but I want to say why I think this. Africans were acquainted with oceanic travel it was nothing new to them. They had trade systems set up long before the European “discovered” America. They had inhabited the land. That being said there were indigenous dark-skinned people in America when the European arrived. The Black people are related to both the indigenous people and the slave forcibly brought here. Everything about these people was wiped from them and the truth deprived of the legacy of these people. The criminals or colonialists did not do anything different from what was done in that time. When you take over a people you wipe them from history. We have laws in place for this reason. It does not erase their judgment and it is not a pass. They have thrown my people in a trap of dependency and have worked tirelessly to keep them there. They have given us a slave’s history and this we have been taught to be ashamed of. I am not ashamed. My children will not be ashamed. I am proud of my history. I do not need to tell myself of Kings and Queens and Emperors of Africa to feel special. My pride is found in the uphill battle of my forefathers who worked this land. Who picked cotton for centuries. Who made this land profitable. Who fought for freedom. And when they obtained it continued to fight for their right to humanity, their civil rights. A fight still happening today. We have become complacent but there is still a need to fight.
The story of my ancestors the Blacks is a gruesome tale. I think when is the right time to introduce this to my children. I often think of the story of Ruby Bridges. The 6-year-old girl who walked through a crowd of angry racist whites into a school and sat in a classroom by herself. She was escorted by the police but she was alone. Her parents didn’t walk in with her, the community did not walk with her but they were with her in spirit. How do you prepare a child for a walk like that? How does a 6-year-old understand the danger and magnitude of that walk? I needed to talk with my elders to get a better understanding. They explained to me that things were different back then, people took themselves seriously. You had to be taught young your place and the way the world worked. If you were old enough to leave the house then you were old enough to know which side of the street to walk on. They said these days parents are so comfortable and enjoy the luxuries of those lessons that they have become complacent. I asked well things have changed right we don’t need lessons on how to behave around white people? I received only questions. Are the Black people still being killed by white people? Are whites still racist against Black people? I knew the answer, we were still at war. Were we more at war with ourselves or the oppressor?
Were things different or just glossed over? Had the world changed or was that just the hope speaking. I remember saying once that there were two types of niggas, the hopeful nigga, and the hopeless nigga. Believing neither was good for the people. I think what made Black people get so comfortable that they felt that their children were safe enough not to know? Safe enough to walk around not knowing how things operated. Stepping out into the world on their own not understanding that they are Black. That life is different for them, work is harder for them. Then only one answer came to mind. Desegregation. The walk. Sitting alone in the school. Over 70 years ago what did we win? Now we can sit next to them, now we can feel equal instead of proving it.
How you see yourself vs How the world sees you? This always baffled me. That although there are dark-skinned people all over the world. The American Black is the dark-skinned people’s stained shirt. Why are we looked down upon by people who look like us? Why do they hate us? Why do we hate ourselves? This was always the underlined theme in my life. That I didn’t want to be that Black person. I didn’t want to be the Black person acting out. The Black person is untrained. The Ghetto Black. The Hood Black. What did those things even mean? I believe that is why I fell so deep in my depression, even though Black people have no time for depression, the white man’s dis-ease. I felt I had fallen into the biggest stereotype of them all. The broken Black family. The Black single mother. The uneducated Black. A generational curse I couldn’t escape. I felt the weight of a plaque around my neck. Everyone could see everywhere I went children, trailing behind me. I know they didn’t know me or anything of my circumstance but it just felt that way.
On Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday. I introduced Civil Rights to my child. I took a stand. I said if my child is old enough to walk outside my door. She is old enough to understand what is on the other side of it. Not just civil rights but all the things that are taboo to talk about. I decided it doesn’t deprive my child of innocence but gives my child a chance to protect her innocence from those who will take advantage of it. When I told her the story. She said, “I hate white people. No one will do that to my brother or sister.” I told her, “No, we do not hate white people. They did this to us because hate was all they knew, long before they came to America. That is only part of the story.” It will take time but I can not be afraid to talk with my child. I can not choose to pretend that America has moved past the very thing it was built upon, such a short time ago. The very thing the law protects. My daughter is a young beautiful Black girl. She is strong, bright, and sassy. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind and be herself. She can do anything she chooses with her life. And not because America says she can but because she is a human being upon this planet in charge of her own life experience.
Is this a wrong way of thinking? Is this all in my mind? What exactly is worth sharing about the Black experience? What is Black History? To me, Black History is the struggle. It is the struggle of how far we have come and how far we have to go to regain our footing. That is why I say Black History starts from the day of emancipation, Juneteenth, A day of celebration. A new beginning for my people. Black History is about what we have accomplished and the bright future we have to accomplish much more. We have all the power to create our story. Maybe this is our wilderness. I am Strong. I am Black. I am Proud. Peace is Love, Madame Woo.