On June 21, 18 Black parents and guardians gathered at Homan Towers on the West Side of Chicago to support their Black daughters in a female empowerment program. During the introductions, parents and guardians were asked to described what makes their daughter sparkle and the answers were filled with pride and joy. Parents and guardians raved about their daughters’ strength, power, and her drive, saying “ when she puts her mind to it, she does it.” Other parents acknowledge the social justice and advocacy skills their daughters possess, “she stands up for herself and others and for what is right.” The pride and joy is beaming from these parents when they speaks these affirmations, and though the girls seem a little shy and embarrassed to hear their parents rave about them, you can also see the love they feel.
After the beautiful and heartfelt introductions, I was worried that my work of Parenting for Liberation would be like “preaching to the choir” for sure these parents were already raising liberated Black girls. However, once I created space for these parents of Black teen girls to reflect on their parenting, many felt similar to the many other Black parents connected to Parenting for Liberation in that they also parent from a place of fear–”fear that their daughters will not come home” or worry that their “daughter will end up missing and murdered.” The tears feel from their eyes as so many of them shared how their deepest fears impact the way that they parent. We discussed the impact of parenting from fear, what it looks like, how it negatively impacts their relationship with their daughters. Parents reflected on how their fears force them to constrict and constraint in their parenting, rather than encouraging their daughters to explore and be free, the fear limits their daughters to only visit “safe places.” Next we shifted to looking at what it would mean to leverage their power as parents rather than limit themselves. We explored what it would take for parents to be liberated and to use their own power and voice to advocate for a safe environment for their daughters. Rather than forcing their daughters to shrink, demanding the environment to create space and make visible their daughters.
Parents began envisioning what parenting for liberation looks like in their homes and also how they could advocate for a world where their Black daughter could be liberated and truly sparkle without anyone trying to diminish her light. While the parents envisioned liberation for themselves and their daughters, the girls created an art collage of what freedom looks and feel like and shared it with the parents. When combining both the parents vision for liberation and the youth image of freedom, something magical happened–liberation and freedom felt within reach. It is exist within their relationships with one another and also within the power of A Long Walk Home’s program. This is what liberation looks like–Black girls creating the future and Black parents and guardians supporting them to make their visions a reality.
We concluded the evening with wishes for Black girls…and as I close this, I wish that all Black girls could feel the power of love and liberation in that room, everywhere they go.
To learn more about A Long Walk Home, visit www.alongwalkhome.org