This week’s blog is written by Cassandra Otoo, SCY’s Program Coordinator for the Juvenile Justice Collaborative.
What does it mean to be a Black woman during two pandemics: COVID-19 and the viral disease called racism? I came across a poem that helps me put things into perspective. The poem is entitled “What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black” by Margaret Burroughs. This poem addresses many of my fears that most African American mothers dealt with during the 1960’s. It is so unfortunate that these same fears are still in existence today for so many African American mothers. Listen here as Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs gives her reflections of an African American Mother.
This poem served to be beneficial and is quite relevant as we as Black Mothers try to survive during heightened levels of violence and structural injustices that have been strategically targeted on African American families, more specifically Black men.
While as a single mother, I am always searching for the right words followed by my action to relay to my two Black sons in trying to deal with the ongoing violence, racial and health injustices. My feelings are varied at this moment in time. I am filled with pain and the harsh reality of what is. I feel outraged by police brutality. I feel anxious and confused. I’m angered by the consistency of trauma in the Black community. I am reflective in my thoughts and actions, increased in my faith, frustrated, saddened, and tired. But most importantly, this time has reminded me of the strength and resilience that Blacks have endured for over 400 years.
In search of my initial question, what do I tell my beautiful Black sons in processing all of this mess? In having conversation with other Black mothers we agreed to simply tell them truths! I offer MY truths to my sons:
My Statements of Truths to My Sons
I will tell the truth- We come from West Africa, Ghana a direct ancestral line of excellence, a culture of rich heritages with limitless contributions to the world.
I will tell the truth- That the world will not see them for their value but that they determine their value in how they view themselves.
I will tell my children-To be visible in an invisible white America by demonstrating academic excellence and to speak their truths through writing their own stories as they journey through life.
I will tell my children- That fairness, will not be afforded to them always therefore they need to plan to win and plan to lose. For the lesson and wisdom will be obtained during the process. So pay attention!!
I will tell my children- The world is filled with people who hate because of fear, and inferiority, but they will ALWAYS respond in LOVE.
I will tell my children- That they must stain the earth with their intelligence, innovation, and supporting others who look like them.
I will tell my children-That they should seek not to understand for insanity and hatred cannot be understood.
I will tell my children- To move independent from what everyone else is doing but to create a movement of followers of their own cause that enhances our race.
I will tell my children-That they will one day be men of influence, loving fathers, leaders, providers, and that they should not tolerate being muted and to find their own truths!
I will tell my children-That the revolution lives inside of them and that they are the next generation that are called into ACTION and are EXPECTED TO RESPOND in meaningful ways.