What I’ll Tell My Little Black Girls About 2020
The truth will set us free — it will also help us heal
There are two types of parents: carpenters and gardeners.
Carpenters believe they can build the kind of structure for their children that will dictate a successful outcome. But gardeners create the space to allow their children to thrive.
I liken myself to a gardener. Both of my daughters were born during revolutions. I don’t know if that makes me dumb or them martyrs. What kind of parent does that make me?
My little girls — my little Black girls — will have questions about what was happening in the time when they were children. They will remember some of what transpired and forget the rest. Like all of us, children remember the details that matter most to them. But their memories are better than ours. Our memories are tainted with bias, projections, and judgment; theirs glitter with hope and promise.
I know that the world was burning when they came out of their mothers’ wombs. For my five-year-old, it was the fires of Ferguson. For my one-year-old, it was the fiery heat of a pandemic and a whole country rotting away with racism.
No one told me how hard it would be to hold my child when the other half of me lived over 1,200 miles away. These are the memories that stay with me. These are the things that I hope do not stain them.
When I talk of 2020, I will speak loud enough to bring out the echoes of celebrity deaths, little ones separated from their families while trapped inside government-supported metal cages, and a world stuck inside, waiting for air and reprieve from coffins and heavy chests.
My eldest left New York City and moved with her mother. My youngest daughter was born a week and a half after. The day after, Kobe Bryant died suddenly. In the hospital room, our newborn slept while the news hummed in the background.
Both events preceded my birthday and came before the world shut down. When they are old enough, I will tell my daughters what I remember, depending on how well my memory will serve me. I will remind…