A Love Letter To Black Parents

By Tonikiaa Orange, Director of the Culture & Equity Project at UCLA Center X, and Tunette Powell, Former Director of the UCLA Parent Empowerment Project
Successful Black Parenting

To Black Parents Everywhere,

As we write this, we want to acknowledge that we are overwhelmed. For Tunette, married and mother of three young sons, it’s just too much testosterone. For Tonikiaa, married and mother of two teenage daughters, it’s just too much estrogen. The kids are arguing. The house refuses to clean itself. The question of what’s for dinner has become fighting words. And as schools are back in session and as we continue to parent in a pandemic and the racial pandemic within the pandemic, it feels like the walls are closing in; like the demands of us, as Black parents, are greater than ever before. We have to manage the everyday stresses and challenges of parenting in a pandemic. But we also have to prepare our children to move and take their place in a world that never wanted them to survive in the first place.

As the first educators of our children, there is no denying the heaviness and magnitude of what is needed to prepare our children to survive in this world. Being a Black parent is heartbreaking at times because we know what our children have to endure. We continue to move our children forward as we make space and put up force shields for them as institutions that boast good intentions continue to use coded words to describe our children that are dehumanizing. But we can’t be contained; our ancestors have been doing this for too long. What we teach is not taught in school. When the world describes us as absent, not interested, or just a bit “too much,” it is precisely in those moments that we provide our Black children with the tools and strategies to protect their mind from the misinformation of who they are and where they come from.