Every time Willow does something to her hair the Black blogosphere goes crazy. One of the biggest reasons, I think some Black people have an issue with the Smith’s form of parenting is because this form of parenting doesn’t fit the “normal” Black parenting model. Too many of us either believe that we are either raised by The Huxtables, The Evans, or a crazy Madea. I call attention to these two tv families not because of their class and socioeconomic status, but because these are the two parenting styles that many of us believe that all Black people interfaced with. The Evans were strict and didn’t run a democratic household. While the Huxtables appeared to be more democratic, and tended to rationalize with their kids more, but at the end of the day it was Claire or Cliff’s way. The Smith’s in my opinion are not adopting a new parenting model, it simply may be new for many of us who are Black and Brown. Will and Jada don’t treat their children like objects that they posses or facsimiles of themselves. They see their roles as parents in relation to their kids in a more egalitarian fashion. Will and Jada approach their power as parents differently, their power that doesn’t seek to silence or oppress the power and individuality of their children.
Willow as a little girl is learning that she is a force to be reckoned with in this world, and that her gender, and gender presentation will not serve as impediments. Jada who is now championing the cause against human sex trafficking, of which girls are disproportionately victims, understands that women need to own themselves fully, if not someone else will. Girls are being trafficked at an alarming rate and not just abroad, but also in our own backyards. In the U.S. alone 80% of human sex trafficking victims are women and girls and 50% are minors. Jada is making the conscious choice to take her daughter along with her on her journey to help end human sex trafficking. In a world where little girls are raped, stolen, and sold as a commodity, hair isn’t all that important. Sometimes I wonder, have some of us adult Black women forgotten what it’s like to be a little Black girl in a white heterosexual patriarchal society? Again to quote Lorde, “easier to crucify myself in you than to take on the threatening universe of whiteness…” Our Black bodies and Black psyches are always being assailed and violated. Healthy validation is often hard to come by in these streets riddled with harassment. Therefore, let us save our vitriol and condemnation for more important things like the perpetuation of rape culture or Donald Trump.
I wish to raise a Black man who will not be destroyed by, nor settle for, those corruptions called power by the white fathers who mean his destruction as surely as they mean mine. I wish to raise a Black man who will recognize that the legitimate objets of his hostility are not women, but the particulars of a structure that programs him to fear and despise women as well as his own black self.
For me, this task begins with teaching my son that I do not exist to do his feeling for him.
I’m very aware that I’ve only listed black people. The Hawaiian language was considered all but dead when I was a much younger person developing my politics. Nearly all of what was available in English about Hawaii back then was written by non-Hawaiians. And the resistance literature of Asian Americans was nowhere to be found. I feel I owe a great debt to African American intellectuals. What they created helped me to name my world and find a place in it as a racial justice advocate. If I hadn’t fallen into my life in social justice, I would probably be an agriculture worker now. Not that there’s anything wrong with that on its own, but I always wanted to express myself and my outrage at injustice, and they showed me what was possible.
From “There Is No Hierarchy of Oppressions” by Audre Lorde
I was born Black, and a woman. I am trying to become the strongest person I can become to live the life I have been given and to help effect change toward a liveable future for this earth and for my children. As a Black, lesbian, feminist, socialist, poet, mother of two including one boy and a member of an interracial couple, I usually find myself part of some group in which the majority defines me as deviant, difficult, inferior or just plain “wrong.”
From my membership in all of these groups I have learned that oppression and the intolerance of difference come in all shapes and sexes and colors and sexualities; and that among those of us who share the goals of liberation and a workable future for our children, there can be no hierarchies of oppression. I have learned that sexism and heterosexism both arise from the same source as racism.
“Oh,” says a voice from the Black community, “but being Black is NORMAL!” Well, I and many Black people of my age can remember grimly the days when it didn’t used to be!
I simply do not believe that one aspect of myself can possibly profit from the oppression of any other part of my identity. I know that my people cannot possibly profit from the oppression of any other group which seeks the right to peaceful existence. Rather, we diminish ourselves by denying to others what we have shed blood to obtain for our children. And those children need to learn that they do not have to become like each other in order to work together for a future they will all share.
Within the lesbian community I am Black, and within the Black community I am a lesbian. Any attack against Black people is a lesbian and gay issue, because I and thousands of other Black women are part of the lesbian community. Any attack against lesbians and gays is a Black issue, because thousands of lesbians and gay men are Black. There is no hierarchy of oppression.
I cannot afford the luxury of fighting one form of oppression only. I cannot afford to believe that freedom from intolerance is the right of only one particular group. And I cannot afford to choose between the fronts upon which I must battle these forces of discrimination, wherever they appear to destroy me. And when they appear to destroy me, it will not be long before they appear to destroy you
Playing it to the balcony.