2013-06-15

Raising a Little Angry Black Woman

It's already starting.  My "black girl raised among white people" PTSD is surfacing with my daughter.   Now let me start with this, my daughter is three.  She is a normal three year old.  She loves to play, will give hugs and kisses freely, and sometimes can be the sweetest thing in all the world. She knows to say "please" and "thank you", she knows to say "sorry" when she sees she has upset someone, and she recognizes when people are upset, and will offer up a hug when she sees others in pain.  Other times she can NOT be the sweetest thing in the world. She's not good at sharing, sometimes she plays too rough, and she has some epic temper tantrums over the smallest of things.  She's human, and even though I think she's perfect, I know she's not, and she is going to have some growing pains, and it's going to my job as a parent to make sure she learns the golden rule, "Do unto others as they would do unto you."  I want my child to know empathy, I want her to share her toys, and I want her to be nice to everyone.  However, I do not want her to slink into being a scapegoat, and I don't want her normal three year old behavior to be interpreted as being overly aggressive or seen as a negative because of the color of her skin.   I also want to defend and protect her from such nonsense, as a black girl who grew up around white people can attest,  black girls who show confidence, tend to be viewed negatively, and are discouraged from doing what white kids have been allowed to do, and are praised for.

Growing up I was a good student, I made really good grades, I was a pretty outgoing student in kindergarten, but I was also sent to the principal's office more than a few times because I talked in class.  I also went to a 99% white Christian private school in Beaumont, TX, and there could be quite a few explanations as to why I was one of the best kids in math, and could read at a much higher grade level than kindergarten.  Thanks Hooked On Phonics!!!!!!! By high school though, I was still a good student, but in school I was very quiet, I didn't answer questions unless called upon, and I overall was just very anti student participation.   I didn't trust teachers, even though I had a mother for one, and nothing major happened it was just the little things.  It was the going to the principal's office for talking to much, it was getting the teacher in third grade who lost my in class quizzes which I made ALL one hundreds on, and giving me a zero.  It was the year I was put in remedial math because I had a seventy nine mid six week average.  The next year I was put back in the "normal classes", and by high school I had taken college level math, and tested out of most of the basic maths in college, because I HATE math with a red hot passion, and have no need for it outside of the basic stuff, and when I worked statistical data, which I like.  I like statistics, that makes me weird, and I embrace it.  I so digress, as per usual ::sigh::   Needless to say by high school my mantra was just not to talk period, as it never did any good, and the school and teachers were going to do what they wanted to do, no matter what I accomplished, and what I did.   It doesn't mean I didn't have some great teachers, I did, I had wonderful teachers who didn't see me as loud and disruptive for answering questions, but the handful that did I remember fondly, and I am a bit angrier I let them become the reason I didn't enjoy school more.

In the present I'm starting to see it rear it's ugly head.  It's going to get uglier as time progresses, even for my little biracial daughter.   I know it's post racial America, and everyone is all good, but it's 2013, and we still have people angry about a Cheerios commercial where there is an interracial couple, and a biracial child, actually being portrayed as a biracial child (that in and of itself is another post).   My child has been accused of biting, when I know she doesn't bite.  She never learned, because she was once bitten by a kid, and the few times she tried to do it, all she knew to do was put her lips against your skin.  She tried to bite me this way once, I had no idea what she was doing until the third or fourth time, and then even that sad, pathetic attempt at a bite was punished and corrected.   She was about a year and a half year old.   Sometimes she doesn't want to share with her friends, and that is expected, she's three, but sometimes it's her friends who don't want to share with her, and as my PTSD rises, my reaction is to just let the other kid have it, upsetting my own kid, which is my mistake, I should stand up for my kid, I shouldn't allow her to think I would never ever protect her, and that is something I need to work on, and it seems whenever another kid is excluded, it's due to my kid, who is always said to say other's can't play, but I've never seen it, and my PTSD then kicks in, and I wonder exactly what has really happened, as my kid has been excluded as well, but I just never bring it up, again my PTSD shining through, and that is me failing my kid.

I totally understand she is three years old, I understand she is going to have conflicts with other kids, and I know that more than likely they can and will work it out on their own, but I always worry, I don't want my kid being targeted, and I mostly don't want her to feel that she has the right to do what all the other kids do, without being labeled as a nuisance or troublemaker.     

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