To be a mother is one of the greatest honors bestowed upon women. We get to be the guardians of these little humans in our care. We try our best to give them everything they need and to shield them from the dangers of this world.
They’re too delicate when we first hold them; something to behold and cherish for as long as we’re alive but….in America, you never know when the world will take your baby away from you for no other reason but the color of their skin.
It’s scary sending them out there because they can be here one minute and gone the next. It’s already hard enough being a parent but being a black parent means you have to always (and I mean always) lookout for your child’s safety. Whether they’re doing a grocery run, going to school, learning to drive, playing outside…. every single place has become a potential death bed for black children.
A mother shouldn’t have to bury their child so young but our society has normalized it for black mothers. We see ourselves in the mothers of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and just recently Daunte Wright and Ma’Khia Bryant. These could have been our children…. these are our children.
It’s exhausting to constantly hear that another black child is dead to police brutality and gun violence. We’re tired from having to process all the trauma in a country where black children are six times more likely to be shot to death by police than white children. The anxiety and fear that our children might not make it home at the end of the day is no way to live. A 2017 study showed that stress may affect DNA for more than 10 generations and true to that because we’re now dealing with post-traumatic slave syndrome.
A lot needs to go to systemic and structural changes of the white supremacy that enables black deaths. But as we advocate for these changes, we must take care of our mental health because it’s prone to deteriorate with every emerging piece of bad news. How can we put ourselves first in a world that doesn’t? The following are mental health antidotes and resources to ease your parenting journey.
Seeking fellowship with fellow black mothers will help you unpack everything and exchange experiences, which will remind you that you’re not alone in this fight. You can also be part of activist movements and social networks for support and strength. The Black Lives Matter movement showed us all that when we come together, change, even in small doses, is possible. Don’t sit on the sidelines watching injustice happen; do what you can and it doesn’t have to be grandiose – it can be as simple as holding space for other black moms to share their experiences with you. Form deep connections that will also help you when you’re experiencing difficult times.
Regulate how much information you allow yourself to take in. You don’t have to watch every lynching video or have every discourse especially with people who trigger you. There are people of other races who are committed to misunderstanding and undermining the black experience – don’t spend your energy on such exchanges. Take charge of your mental health and prioritize self-care; rest as much as you can and treat yourself kindly. You will burn out if you keep stretching yourself thin without replenishing. You’re so busy taking care of others and you need to take care of yourself too mama.
As hard as it is, it’s important to talk to our children about the realities of being black in our society. It’s not the easiest thing to do to explain to a child the dangers that await them in the real world; that they will be easily profiled for crimes and manhandled because they’re black. That once they learn how to drive, they stand an everyday chance of being stopped by traffic police because they’re black. You know that if you don’t teach them then the world will do so – brutally. Prepare them as they grow so that they’re not caught unawares when microaggressions start happening.
A list of resources for black mothers;
Articles and books
Organizations implementing change
- The Conscious Kid: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
- Black Mamas Matter Alliance: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
- Black Visions Collective: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
- Antiracism Center: Instagram, Twitter
- NAACP: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
- Equal Justice Initiative: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter
Our team of culturally competent therapists is always ready to help you through your process.