It was an honor to hold space for the beautiful gathering of over 100 folks in a the lavender garden to listen to a collective of Black women speak to our rights to pleasure in parenting. First, it was great to welcome to Dani and adrienne, who have traveled from Cincinnati and Detroit, respectively, to be with us. Also, a special shout out to Isobel–Dani’s little one. Secondly, I want to acknowledge the event co-sponsors: Underground Museum for hosting us in such a beautiful space and LOOM.
Below are some of my introductory remarks. More to come from the event with video and audio recordings.
Audre Lorde, Black queer feminist poet and scholar, described parenting as a revolutionary act that had the ability to liberate and free not only her own children but all children. Children are our social change agents, seers, visionaries, creators, and builders of our future. Parenting for Liberation believes in the power of parents to conceive, birth, and nurture liberation for the future. I launched Parenting for Liberation in 2016 as a virtual platform featuring blogs and podcasts to connect, inspire, and uplift Black parents as they navigate and negotiate raising Black children within the social and political context of the U.S.
Around that time, I was raising a young Black boy in South Los Angeles; in a society that was created to set him up for failure. I was afraid of him being pushed into the school-to-prison pipeline or, worse, being murdered by police. With the heightened visibility of violence against Black boys for listening to music (Jordan Davis), playing in the park (Tamir Rice), walking down the street (Emmet Till), wearing a hoodie (Trayvon Martin), etc. I began parenting from a place of fear. My fear pushed me to engage in maladaptive behaviors that were detrimental to my son. I was often in protection mode. In all of my protecting, I eventually realized that I had been blocking my own heart: my hands had not been open to nourish and nurture my son. I saw more clearly that I had been parenting from fear. I knew that I had to make the transition from parenting for protection to parenting for liberation.
Our work is rooted in an Afro-futuristic vision of a world where Black parents are in community with each other to raise Black children without fear and instead parent for liberation. We really want to cultivate resilient and joyful Black families that are doing the healing work to interrupt historical traumas, dismantle harmful narratives about the Black family, and create community that amplifies #blackgirlmagic and #blackboyjoy. Since our inception, we have produced over twenty-five podcasts, sharing conversations with Black parents and activists about how they actualize liberation with their own children. We also have a self-published StoryBook Workbook (with a new edition coming out next year with Feminist Press!) Moving from behind the computer screen, we have also hosted in person gatherings of Black parents in Los Angeles, Long Beach, Orange County, San Diego, Detroit, Chicago, Idaho, and South Carolina–holding space for Black parents who are freedom fighting for our collective liberation to engage with one another, and share how they operationalize liberation in their homes. Our more recent gatherings such as Self-Care Sunday and Black Mama Magic: Mothering Ourselves, have been well-received by Black parents and are spaces where Black parents can explore their own liberation in community. These gatherings reaffirmed our commitment to parent for liberation, because it provided a small glimpse into what’s possible when we build a community of parents who are interrupting intergenerational trauma and taking care of themselves: a world of Black liberated parents who can show up whole for their children.
This gathering is one such gathering. A place to connect with one another. We are here because:
We as Black women/mama/caregivers understand intimately that the personal is political (because we are so heavily policed and surveilled in the spaces we occupy). Therefore we as Black women/mama/caregivers are at the forefront of home (We Live for the We) and community (Pleasure Activism) and even still those same Black women/mama/caregivers who are giving their all to home and community deserve to be whole (instead of fragmented), alive (instead of just “surviving”), healing (instead of just moving through our trauma), connected (instead of isolated), and feeling pleasure (instead of denying it). What happens when we center our PERSONAL LIBERATION as a strategy to COLLECTIVE LIBERATION?
We are here to engage with Dani and adrienne about how to take up space, and to center ourselves, our happiness and pleasure because our homes and communities suffer when we don’t. We are here to re-think and re-imagine.
Both Dani and adrienne’s work open with rich questions about what’s possible:
In the opening of We Live for the We, Dani reflects on a conversation that she and I had in January 2018, she used it as an invitation to her book and I extend it you all as an invitation to this gathering. “We are raising children who were never meant to survive…People who are raising kids who were meant to survive have a lot to learn from us. We can teach resilience. We can instil pride. We can instill values around compassion and love. We can instill a sense of joy and play in horrible conditions. You have a lot to learn from the magic of Black mothering and Black parenting. Imagine what we could do if we actually had resources. Imagine what we could do if we actually were on fertile soil and not in a desert. Imagine if it wasn’t concrete and were were planting roses. Just imagine what would be possible.”
Similarly, in her introduction to Pleasure Activism, adrienne asks “what would happen if we aligned with a pleasure politic especially as people who are surviving long-term oppression conditions?” through adrienne maree’s pleasure activism we learn that what would be possible is a space for our own pleasure as caregivers.
During this conversation with brown and mcclain, we are living into what is possible. This gathering is an opportunity to re-imagine our ways of being as Black women occupying spaces wherein we are resisted, policed, oppressed, restricted. I invite you to re-imagine what’s possible for YOU during these conversations.
More to come on the event!