How to be better Black elders than our elders were Part 1

By not asking Black women if they comb their hair or their hair is “done”.

The state of a Black woman’s hair is sensitive and is honestly no business of anyone but the woman who is growing it. I lose respect for anyone that asks me when I’m going to comb or do my hair. If I am out my hair is done. We already live in a world that tells us by default that our hair is unprofessional. The hardest thing is when it comes internally. 

You don’t get to tell someone that they aren’t taking care of themselves and expect a respectful response. It’s like me asking you did you brush your teeth this morning, but with an added layer of internalized self-hate. Don’t expect anything but me telling you how my hair is done,until you back off.

The older generation has yet to do is realize why they do this. They were brought up with respectability politics of Black hair. To the point where if someone’s hair isn’t “neat” or “presentable ” it isn’t done. They feel they need to tell you to get it done because that’s what they feel is needed for survival. They mean well, but they don’t realize how words leave scars.

Not my generation.

 We are working on breaking that generational curse. We’re done playing hair politics with White people AND older Black people. We’re not cutting our locs for a job. We’re letting our hair grow, we’re letting it curl,we’re perming we’re buying wigs,we’re doing it all and if you have a problem with that. That’s on you.

Apologizing to our kids.

How can we expect our kids and those younger to grow into responsible adults who hold themselves accountable when we don’t. You aren’t just right because you’re a parent, or because you’re older. If your child realizes the biggest people in their lives can make mistakes. Then they won’t feel so bad about making them themselves.

No more: “Oh I got food ready, I have Mcdonald’s money, or let’s go to the store and buy you snacks.” No, we’re showing our kids the kind of person they can be one day. One that holds themselves accountable. And never has so much pride that they can’t apologize.

Stop telling your kids they can’t do white stuff in your house.

Stop saying this to your kids. There is nothing that can separate a kid from their Blackness more than their parents and older Black people in their lives rejecting them because of what they love. Just because you don’t know Black people that do it, doesn’t mean it’s a thing we don’t do.

I as an older weeb, almost always compliment Black kids wearing nerdy shirts, especially when they’re with their parents. Because even if they’ve never met a Black nerdy adult, I need them to know that we are normal and that their hobbies are valid. And I want their parents to see adults that have the same hobbies their kids like. No, it’s not just your kid and their friends. We are Blerds, we are grown, and we are out here. 

You don’t want your kid to move out of your house and be so happy that they finally live in a place where they can enjoy their hobbies without your judgment. 

You don’t need to get it, that ok. You don’t even have to do much to encourage them. Treat their hobbies just like you would things that you’re more familiar with. Just don’t make them feel like an oddball in the only place they should feel comfortable, in their home.

That simple.

Ask them questions, show interest. Maybe watch a K-Drama with your daughter or watch a shonen anime with your son. Nerds love sharing what love with those around them. Do some research, how about taking them to a convention or to a random anime movie showing. 

Oh and leave Black alternative kids alone. You think Black kids should be into rock, just means you don’t know your own history. We created the style and a lot of the subgenres within it. The history of rock has been pretty white-washed. So just take it as your kid taking back their own culture. You should see rock the same way you see jazz. A beautiful style that we created.Regardless of who the forefront people are.

What telling your Black child they are “acting white” or doing “white things” does to your child

1.) You are messing with your child’s identity as a Black person

I don’t know how many times I will have to say it, but if a Black person does it, then it is a thing Black people do. Reading comics, watching Star Trek, snowboarding, mountain climbing, spelunking, princess core, cosplaying, gaming, watching anime. We are into everything!

Secondly, this can cause your child to have a conflict with themselves and other Black people. Imagine your child is into things that maybe not a lot of Black people in your area are into. And they’re rejected by Black kids at their school, but also by YOU.

Their parent, who should support them in their endeavors even if it’s something, you aren’t into. But you’re not supportive, you’re no better than their bullies. And how can your kid tell you about being bullied, when you’re saying the same things the bullies are.

For some, the easiest thing to do in these situations is to reject their Blackness. Why hang out with Black people if all they are going to do is bully me, and try to force me to be someone I’m not. Some Black people I see who have very very few Black friends, often have histories of rejection by Black people. For being different than the status quo of Blackness where they were. Some are fine with calling themselves a “coon” for their beliefs and don’t really care if they have Black friends.

Now this isn’t everyone,but I’ve seen this,some people manage to make it through all of this ,mostly ok. Some stay away from all of us.

2.)Your child will never be themselves around you.

Seeing Black adults who grew through this being happy that they are free to do the “white things” they love without judgment, is the saddest and most angering thing I’ve heard this year. Your child hides a part of them when they are around you. Respecting your parents is one thing, but that’s different than them hiding their musical taste and their hobbies from you.

Hiding them because you’ll deny their Blackness if you see them. You’ll spoil every mood. So rather than be themselves. They put on a maks of your “Black normal”.They perform the type of Blackness that you want.
And you’ll never get to know your child. Because they can’t trust that you’re a safe place, that they can just be themselves.

They shuck and jive for you because that’s what you said you wanted. Right?

3.) They might just choose to not be around you.

Some Black adults may fake themselves around their parents. But you have to understand some won’t. They aren’t going to pretend for you. They just aren’t going to deal with you.

And you may ask yourselves, why you don’t see them a lot…

Especially if they have children because they aren’t going to take the chance that you’ll reject their child’s Blackness. They are raising strong Black kids to be independent and to love their culture. Who will also be unapologetically themselves.

And they know the only thing you offer their child is a binding box.

Let’s expand:

I’ve seen Black adults who had a deal with their parents questioning their Blackness their whole life, and it’s heartbreaking. I was lucky. My mom didn’t get me, but she NEVER questioned my Blackness because of my hobbies. She knew me wearing black wouldn’t stop me from being followed in stores. And that watching anime won’t stop micro-aggressions.

I was so lucky, the concept of parents questioning their child’s Blackness didn’t make sense to me. But the older I got the more people I met who had the same story. Blerds whose parents saw their nerdiness and somehow correlated that to whiteness. This really doesn’t make sense with things like anime, which is Japanese, but I digress.

Very few Blerds had supportive parents unless the parents were Blerds themselves. Many caught flack everywhere and didn’t have a single place where they could be themselves. It didn’t take me long to realize, that my childhood freedom though it should be the norm, was an outlier.

Don’t get me, bullies will always try to get people to conform. “The nail that sticks out will get hammered down”, conformity to culture and society is global. But the one thing your child should know is that their Blackness is unquestionable. And you, the parent, should be the first person to build that sense of confidence.

Their foundation should be so strong that when anyone, Black, White, or whatever, tells them their hobby is white, that they can laugh in their face. And they can go back to that hobby will full confidence in themselves and the love for that thing.

Be that parent.

Because there aren’t white things.

But there are many things Black people have been “gatekeeped” from or things that class and the wealth gap have made unavailable to us. For example, people talk about Black people not swimming. But have you ever asked yourself WHY? It’s the same history with hiking, things that “people” didn’t want to share with us.

And don’t get me started on the Whitewashing of rock history. It’s so bad that many Black people don’t know who created Rock & Roll, and helped create grunge. How can our children being a part of a genre our ancestors created, be considered acting white?

So unpack your biases, and give your kids an uninhibited bubble of safety, known as home. Let your home be the place where your child can be them, even when the world doesn’t.

The world will always try to push your child into a box. It’s your job to let them know that they’re more than that.

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