The Glorification Of Motherhood...

Continue Reading

On Combating Racism and Fostering Joy

posted on: August 20, 2017

I never had dreams of an ideal motherhood, what it would amount to or what kind of mother I'd be. When I got pregnant with River I felt this distinct straight witchy hell-bent level to protect her. I was a mad woman. And though that part of me dissipated a bit within the waves of life, and within the aches of first days of pre-k, scraped knees, and 30 seconds of frozen in time fear losing one or both in a crowded playground, that woman still can be as ferocious as she was 7 years ago around this time. Now, more than ever.



The unknown of raising two little ones with a wealth of sorrows and joys of my very own can be difficult. The difficulty does not lie in River and Oak (they are surprisingly easy going, and have always been that way) it is because raising compassionate, aware, and healthy kids is very good and very hard work. Choosing to do this in my 20s has stretched me beyond what I could have imagined in a very short period of time. Growth is amplified. And with this growth, I have had to identify the realties of raising them in the kind of world we live in today.

I realized those realities the day I had River, when it was assumed (because of the color of my skin) that I wouldn't want to try and breastfeed. And again and again when it was assumed I was the nanny, told how to parent in the street, stared at persistently or told how surprising it was that I was in fact a good mother by an older white woman. As if to say "I am surprised you are here with your kids." "Who's paying your bills?" or " How are you young, black, and attentive?" I have seen it and have quietly navigated it all. For these are my stories as their mother, and there are so many other stories that live within the walls of my body as simply LaTonya; a daughter, a sister and a friend to many people of color.

With Charlottesville and the general state of the world my body is stocked with fight and joy. Anger and courage. While my goal is to always foster this magical childhood my kids more than deserve, the truth of the matter is as a black mother raising biracial children that we identify as black children (they may choose to identify as they wish when they want), the state of the world seems more calculated than ever in my motherhood heart. It has risen that lady who once rode the L train 7 years ago with a body-builder type of stance and heart ready to throw-down for her unborn.

At the same time, the more I grow along with my kids, and as the veil that once shielded white people from racism and bigotry seems to be lifted, I have been doing my best to redirect my own tools to where they belong. I said it in my Instagram stories, but right now, they don't belong in educating a white follower or reader on what they need be doing as a white person. As much as I want to lay it all out and create a guide on how not to raise racist children, or how to see color, or how to unlearn your own racism and identify racists ideology you have yet to acknowledge, my tools belong in existence. My tools belong in JOY. That is where I, as a black woman with two children in 2017 belong. My tools belongs in our safety. My tools belong in exactly what white supremacist don't want us to have as people of color–joy.

That doesn't mean my activism doesn't exist (it actually exists every single day I wake up and write here, and give River and Oak a beautiful life as two kids of color), it means I am stepping aside and also giving white bloggers space to unlearn and be active in this realm. This is not politics, this is humanity. And for me, this is self-care. So I will be here, writing and working, living and growing, fighting and most of all, focusing on beautiful beautiful self-care, courage, peace and joy.


"As I approach my 85th revolution around the sun this year, I wonder why has it been so difficult for humankind to be kind. So difficult to be loving and lovable. For my militant brothers and sisters, please don't misconstrue loving and lovable to be weak or submissive. Love will always be triumphant over hate. I know I will not be here forever, nor do I desire to be. I have seen progress like most cannot appreciate because they were not there to bear witness. I dedicated my life to the movement. By doing so, I never thought I'd still be here. So many of my friends are not here. They were cut down by a system of hatred and evil. If they were here, they'd see the progress that i see. The reality is far from perfect, but profoundly better than what daily reality was for my generation. Young folks if you are wise you would talk less and spend more time listening to the elders who saw evil up front and personal everyday. How long I've been asking this question for over 40 years! Ho w long before we realize our Universal God give potential? We have made immeasurable progress that cannot be debated. That said we still have a long way to go. I have no desire to see this all the way through, the dreams I dreamed about 60 years ago have definitively been realized. To the young folks of all ethnicities I say #staywoke not as a catchprhase but as a lifestyle. Most of the things that are killing us are in our minds and our daily routines. The way we think, the "food" we eat and the water we drink or so often don't drink. While so many go out and protest the small evils, the big evils are ever present and welcomed into our homes. From the top to the bottom of my heart I say #staywoke" 
                                                                -  Dick Gregory
                                                    Civil Rights Activist and Comedian
                                                  October 12th 1932- August  19th 2017


Thank you for reading and being a big part of this space.

If you're looking for a white blogger that I feel is speaking, quieting, learning, unlearning and teaching, Erin is an amazing source. You can always follow my sister and the lady who threw me into  several levels of activism, Sarah Sophie Flicker. 


xoxo
LaTonya

(Photos by Maia Harms for LaTonya Yvette)

10 comments:

  1. I sometimes feel that in white people, the desire to be told what to do so as to not involuntary insult or demean POC is stronger than the desire to simply listen and learn from observing. I am a white woman with a bilingual, even though not biracial, daughter, and even just raising a strong, selfless girl with a sense of what is going on around her is hard enough. I am not saying I understand what you or other women of color are going through, especially since I don't live in America, but I completely understand your decision to choose joy. I am following you on Instagram for a while now and I've been reading your blog even before Instagram was something everyone had, and I truly admire you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for following along and reading (even longer!). I appreciate it and your comment so much.

      xo
      L

      Delete
  2. Thank you for sharing. This was an interesting read. I often find that White women that are married to Black men are often in denial about racism. They seem to bury their head in the sand and I'm not sure if it's unconsciously or intentional. I do feel that if a White women chooses to have biracial children a conscious effort has to be made to educate themselves and children on racism and race relations. The same can be said for White men as well. Then there is the issue of Black men married to White women that are also in denial. Choosing joy is a wonderful decision and a path I need to jump on as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I 100% agree and has been a topic in and around my friends and family for so very long. It is a must. These conversations must be had.

      Thank you so much.

      L

      Delete
  3. Thank you for this beautifully positive and resonant post. The quote was icing on the cake and exactly what I have been needing to hear.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I agree that love must surely overcome hate. And you must follow your path. But I was a bit surprised that you have decided or chosen for your children to identify as black when they are biracial. I'm mum to three mixed race children (biracial is not so common in this part of the world) aged from 17 to 10 and they have a more fluid sense of self - they acknowledge both sides of their heritage. My husband and I have always said that they are a mix of me and him and all our forebears. We don't know if it's the right way to raise decent, emotionally intelligent kids in this often toxic world, but we're doing the best we can! As a family, we discuss white privilege, racism, Western greed, political corruption and prejudice but we try to live a joyful, kind and tolerant life. Personally, I don't want my kids to constantly see race - I don't want them to make assumptions but rather make informed decisions, which is much easier not living in the USA. Interestingly, when my husband and I suggested a family holiday to America our kids said no thanks - they thought they would get shot by police. Out of the mouths of babes...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hi Emma, I'm not sure if you read the entire post but I also said that (they can choose to identify how they want when they are older. I do this while i and they still acknowledge and love that they are in fact half white. But many Americans find themselves stuck in the middle, unable to identify with either or, so as I have done extensive reaserch, we consider them black kids. Both of them are brown, I am their mother and I am black. I take it you do not live in America? Are you white? These are all factors that matter. My children aren't closed minded and neither are we, and by saying that they are black kids while also discussing their entire background is what I believe what it takes to raise beautiful and fluid and open kids in America. I fully 100% believe in our path and my children and their openness and love are already examples of that. Xo L

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In addition, I think you're doing a great job as well. Where we live, where we come from, and the nature of which we raise our children all matter. My kids do see race and color, and it's so important that they do. I'm doing so, they love and acknowledge and celebrate the unique backgrounds of all their peers with joy:

      Delete
  6. I found this so insightful and have read it through twice to try to internalise why it is this piece felt so right for me.

    I am a white woman, I live in the UK. I have felt a growing feeling of awakening, in line with world events and what is happening in the US spiralling out of control. I admire your decision to exist in joy through this incredibly violent and unnerving time. I believe that that is the most powerful thing you can do for your children. I found your quote and links at the bottom also so useful for me as a white mother of white children trying to navigate this. Though I cannot fully know the experiences of discrimination you described, I do know the feeling of fire in your belly to protect your young. All mothers know it. I hope that it is this good and just and true strength that we all have, which will overcome the absolute evils who are trying to stop us all from progressing.

    I will be discussing with my own family regularly and arming them as best I can with the right responses to fight racism. Sending a lot of love, and thanks for opening the discussion up to all. White people need to take this time and opportunity to address themselves, their own attitudes to discrimination and ask themselves what kind of a world do they really want to live in. Standing by the sidelines and looking away should have never been an option.

    ReplyDelete