Raising my sons has always been a pleasure.
I don’t know when the flip switched from joy to fear, but I constantly balance the two in my hands and heart, both of which feel helpless at times. You see, my boys are getting older, and they no longer don the sweet, chubby faces of infancy. They are stretching tall and prominent features are beginning to form, and I see glimpses of the men they are becoming.
My sons are learning to navigate the world around them and exert their independence. They are asking questions and learning how to make rational (and sometimes intelligent) decisions. However, I realize that they won’t get to go through the process of manhood organically. Because of the color of their skin, I must introduce themes and concepts and realities to them that will cut their childhood short. These are critical narratives that must be set in early in order to preserve their lives.
Raising my Black boys is so much more than reading, writing, and arithmetic; it is also teaching them about the nuances of racism, prejudice, and discrimination. They must know how to read and how to read between the lines. They must be able to write and be able to understand the systemic and institutionalized laws and policies that are written into the fabric of and govern the judicial system – one that is just for some and fair for a few. They must know how to both quantify equations and estimate the likelihood of being pulled over by a police officer as the result of profiling and deduce just how much pacifying they must do to make it home alive.
I love my sons. I believe they are the most precious gifts on earth. Yet, I must find a way to both build a stable foundation from which their identities can be formed and break their hearts about what their black bodies represent in this country. Sometimes it seems as if my best isn’t good enough. As if they know my thoughts, they find me – their warm hugs and bright smiles comfort me like a mug of warm cocoa. I smile.
There’s hope. Hope that their generation will not tolerate further injustices. Hope that they will defy stereotypes and shatter glass ceilings. Hope that they will become men who speak with authority and purpose. Hope that they will become leaders in their homes, churches, and communities at large. Hope that they will tap into their royal lineage and draw strength to ensure wrongs are righted and truth is spoken in power. Hope that their children and grandchildren will reap the harvest of the seeds planted long ago.
Hope that Black boys will be seen as more than a statistic.
This is how I am raising my sons.
Dr. Quantrilla (Quanny) Ard, MPH is a faith-based personal and spiritual development writer who lives in the DC Metro area with her husband of 12 years and three littles. She is a recent PhD graduate, and writes as The PhD Mamma about things she knows to be true in hopes to encourage others to do the same. Quanny believes in the power of collective strength, community, and fellowship-you will find her wherever people are sharing stories of triumph.