"You cannot dismantle what you cannot see. You cannot challenge what you do not understand." Layla S
Children of Children
The children of children by the time they’re half grown have habits like rabbits and young of their own
The children of children from their momma’s laps hop down from the ground to be taken in traps
The children of children are trapped by dark skins to stay in and play a game no one wins
The children of children while still young and sweet all damned and programmed for future defeat
The children of children are trapped by adults who fail them and jail them to hide the results
The children of children unable to cope with systems that twist them and rob them of hope
The children of children with the sin and the shame keep bearing and pairing and who do you blame
The children of children cry out everyday. They beg you for rescue and what do you say?
Oscar Brown Jr (1926 - 2005)
Children of Children: The Perverse Cycle of Poverty in African-American Society “We tend to believe that [the American] free-market system rewards those who help themselves, and that those who are willing to ‘pull themselves up by the bootstraps’ can and will ‘get ahead,’” author Tiziani C. Dearing writes.
This concept is exposed by the history of black suppression in America, which runs deep into the roots of American history and grounds neo-slavery, or ‘slavery by another name,’ in black poverty today. Nearly 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation, Juneteenth, outlawing slavery, some black individuals remain victims of neo-slavery, chronically entrapped by crime, incarceration, drug addiction, broken families, unemployment, and poor education.
Juneteenth celebrates the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, TX and announced the end of the Civil War and the end of slavery. June 19th represents the freedom of African-Americans.
I remember the day. The day my father sat us down for “the talk.” We had just moved to Washington state and he carefully and passionately explained to us that we were fully human and not to accept less-than treatment. His pride burst through his chest while reminding each of us that we were capable and valuable people just like everybody else. I shook my head at such obvious information and wondered why in the world were we wasting time talking about this?
My father then proceeded to introduce us to our neighbors, the neighborhood schools, stores and businesses as well as with the police station. (preventative protection) Each day, my parents would inquire about our day out in the world along with two crucial questions; How were you treated? and How were your peers treated? I was unaware that they were listening for “the day.” The day that our sense of self and security would be stolen, the day we would become aware of the other America that operated with an unwritten set of rules with an invisible social contract put in place to lock me out and turn my American dream into a nightmare.
At first I thought it was just a mistake or misunderstanding as my siblings would come home from school each day with new labels on them like, “cheater” for being accomplished and timely with assignments and exams, or “ugly” after my mother spent hours on my sisters beautiful crowns of hair. I was in disbelief until my own first grade teacher threw away my amazing artwork colored carefully inside the lines as she directed me to. When my father returned with me after school to have her fish it out of the garbage and hang it proudly with the rest of the class, she explained that she did not want the other kids to be “uncomfortable” because my work was so good, so she crumpled mine up and threw it away instead. My new label, garbage.
Attacks on Black minds, bodies and spirits has been an external warfare as well as internal from planted bias and stereotypes. I believed that I was practicing self care but I was only using self preservation to survive. We Black women and girls have created an art-form out of survival which we have made look eloquent underneath our rage, graceful and grounded in gratitude, embellished with empathy and finesse through our physicality and physique. Our strength and resilience has not only helped us survive but taught us to create and thrive. It’s called Black Girl Magic. Yet, along with this magic comes a curse and zoo-like voyeurism. Because of our strength, resilience and love, we are ignored when we are in pain, we are assumed and accused, our intellectual properties and talents stolen and assimilated, we are unheard and not allowed to ask for help, overlooked for opportunities even when we are overqualified. Black women hold up the Black men and boys in our community; our fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, nephews, sons and friends, but who holds us?
I am a PE teacher today because I could not digest an education filtered to me by a system designed to destroy my mind, dehumanize and deny my body and beauty while silencing me to simple stereotypes. I received third class education, delivered through White bias that felt like a choke hold with a smile. I watched and endured brutal discipline along with a violent curriculum disguised as education that deliberately deleted Black history, which IS American History - along with everybody else of Color.
The history of education was to assimilate me into White-like behaviors so I could serve and uphold White culture without my Blackness getting in the way. I can’t breath. I’ve been protesting since I was 5 years old with my SKIN. My very presence is a disruption to White Supremacy, in fact the darker my skin, the LOUDER I scream in protest. I demonstrate daily by being one of six Black women in a White school district of 22,000 students and 2,100 staff. I can’t breathe. I teach Physical Education, Health and Wellness because I cannot teach the lie. Every student has to (I mean gets to) take PE and guess who I strategically designed that to be? I’ve been carrying out my WSDP (White Supremacy Disruption Plot) by teaching PE to K-12 in over 13 schools, tending the spirit and hearts of our youth with authentic relationships, vulnerability, my humanity and sports equipment, in order to change the trajectory of my own future and the future of our great grandchildren. It makes me wonder to what lengths would you go to in order to do the same?
So while you are reacting to historicized events as if they were new occurrences witnessed or recorded by a cell phone, first respond by learning about the roots of America’s omitted history, your own racial identity and how you move through our racialized world that is doing exactly what it was designed to do. The system is not broken, you’re just waking up to the 450 year Pandemic that has been purposefully hidden in plain sight. The trauma is intense but I’m so thankful that fresh air, light and antiseptic can get in the grotesque wound and begin to heal. Yes, the discomfort will be painful at first, but we all know that we just have to breathe through it. I just wish George Floyd was able to do the same.
The fight for Black liberation is far from over. Black Lives Matter is not a trend. Posting one Black square on your social media pages is action with no weight or responsibility. We must continue to do the work; starting with the examination of our roots of identity paired with internal work around race/ism, systemic racism and white supremacy and actively unlearning our racial bias’ in order to hold each other accountable with courage, bravery and leadership as we move forward.
"if not you, then who? If not now, then when?" - Hillel
Ways to Educate, Participate and Celebrate Junteenth EVERY day!
Make Discrimination Illegal by supporting I-1776 Today!
Register to VOTE at https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/register.aspx
Make Internet FREE for all low income Families
Make an ongoing monthly donation to an organization. Here's a list of 135 organizations that benefit black communities, including victim memorial funds, policy change advocates, black LGBTQIA groups and youth-oriented groups.
Sign petitions online, send texts, make phone calls, attend local events
Continue your self education: books, tv shows, articles, and more
Create Cities/Communities that adopt “Right to Breath'' policies that ensure Safe and Respectful communities and cities for Black People. mailto:RightToBreathe@gmail.com
The focus of the Right to Breathe initiative is the inherent expectation that Black people have the right to breathe. The other is for a safe and respected community in how Black people are treated. This is not to say that other groups do not deserve these same things but that is the focus of this group.
BPAC: Black Policy Action Committee, there are 3 parts to policy change that are being asked:
1. Local governments be engaged in the work and committed to change
2. Policing has to change, and the treatment of Black people have to adhere to the above –
supporting what BLM is stating around policing changes
3. Retailers need to be also held to a standard based on the above and that expectations be placed on them that they acknowledge and act on the above – possible idea is that a sticker showing that they are a Right to Breathe retailer.
These three things are not designed to encompass everything but to remain focused on safety and respect of the Black community –