Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Raising Black Children in Canada Today

Hadiya Roderique plays at Perth Square Park with the photographer Jorian Charlton's daughter, Soleil.

On the weekend I read an opinion piece in the Globe and Mail newspaper by a woman who is in relationship with a wonderful guy with whom she can imagine having children. Except that she is unsettled by this possibility because she is  Black. Hadiya Roderique is Canadian, the adult child of Caribbean immigrants . She knows that there is a much higher rate of maternal mortality for Black women and Black children are three times as likely to die as White kids. And of course there are the grim statistics relating to interactions between police and Blacks, Indigenous people and People of Colour. 

In her essay she observes: 

I’ve seen my white friends prepare for motherhood. They read up on stroller reviews and baby yoga classes, sleep training and co-sleeping. These are not my primary concerns. I seek out stories of survival. I read stories of Black motherhood in an effort to understand what to expect, the feelings I may feel in the regular work of keeping my child safe and healthy. I find stories of more grief, more stress and more work for Black mothers compared with their white counterparts. The work of protecting and advocating in a tangibly different way than white parents. And work for your child, the added work of existing and trying to thrive in a world that does not want them to.

We have probably all seen the paintings and sculptures of the crucified Christ in the arms of his grieving mother, Mary, and they are nearly always white figures.  I came across this powerful Pieta on Twitter and it speaks to the fear of Black parents everywhere within the context of a well-recognized religious image. If we are convinced that Black Lives Matter those of us who are White must listen carefully to the deep concerns of people such as Hadiya Roderique and all those who live similar realities. 

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