411 Focus

This Black History Month, share your histories with your child... the things on the inside, not on the outside

Contributed By:Dorothy Nevils maslivend@sbcglobal.net

A new history

I happened upon a notification a few days ago about “The Back in The Day Block Party,” which happens on Wednesdays on WGVE, Gary Schools’ radio station. “Not on the Outside,” a song from the early 70s, was running through my mind, and I just had to give it a listen.

Actually, the song is a love song, and if you think I’m going down the “love” street, I’m not – at least not the way you’re thinking. Today’s writing is about love, but, hopefully, a later love – the love of one’s child.

When I was teaching sophomores, I often used the term “trappings.” It sounds a bit ominous, and in truth, one could say it is, though probably not the way you think. Trappings, as I explained to my kids, who weren’t accustomed to the term, means embellishments, those things that decorate or adorn, that add to appearance, but not value – in other words, stuff on the outside.

As we continue Black History Month, let me pose a question for the now generation; and, if you are older, hold the discussion with younger ones: “What do you really want for your child?” Have you thought about it? What lessons from the past can you share with them today?

My mother used to use the word “sham,” which meant something that looked like what it wasn’t, what my students called “fake.” It was of no value, a “straw man” in debate. A “pair of pants” and nothing else was what others called it.

This month, we’ve revisited a history of Black families being violently yanked apart as if they were no more than litters of puppies, and sold or traded as it fit another’s convenience. We’ve remembered too vividly babies being cared for by “wet nurses” whose own babies were denied the soft breasts that were, by right, their pillows… and tiny hands that could not clutch the fingers of strong, black fathers sold to someone miles away.

Such is the reality of too many that wear my skin, the same skin that covered the children that occupied the seats that faced mine for over thirty years, children that have aged and become parents and grandparents; children that listened (or not)… and incorporated (or not)… instruction from their teachers.

How have you shared with your children and/or grandchildren what you’ve learned? How has the story of your history impacted your attitude toward parenting? How does knowing how your history is one of yanking father from family affect how you regard family? Is it okay to live apart from one’s children – or is this too close to what was done to your ancestors?

Today’s young need to value family. Far too many are abandoning their role as parents, just coupling for pleasure, with little or no concern for the children.

When you get right down to it, sex is a really short word – three letters and it’s over. It’s an “outside” thing, a pleasant coating, thin and short-lived.

Parenthood, on the other hand, is deeper… serious. It means being there for the long run, guiding the child, loving the child… It means being a model, an anchor, a teacher, a protector… a parent – all the things denied too many with dark skin!

Story Posted:02/17/2018

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