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Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

I had the honor of having two parents, though divorced, who practiced their own form of positive racial socialization. A quick definition, positive racial socialization involves exposing children to adults, messages, and symbols that communicate positive regard, pride for, and identification with one’s racial group.

For me, this socialization took place in the interactions I had with my mother and father. It was evident in the books she read and bought us, the music we listened to, events attended, and our toys. It was my mother who made us watch Roots, who taught us about our Native American and African heritage, and who exposed us to historical Black figures. Our father would sit down with us as children and teach us “the lessons”. Such lessons meant readings and reiterations of how God was Black, the original man was Black. …


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Photo by Mike Erskine on Unsplash

I, like everyone or at least most people in the United States, seem to catch the latest updates on COVID-19 while parenting, working from home. The timeline is quite blurred, but I remember the feeling of urgency and anxiousness taking place as we moved closer and further into March. My job, a center located in a university, began to receive email updates after updates informing us of new cases, and the need to move our work to remote and home environments.

My work in the center necessitates I remain a member of professional organizations, and, for me, those organizations include those for psychologists. …


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Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash

The challenges associated with my ability to remember events, moments, and words with accuracy is quite real. I wonder in ten years, what will this mean for me when I transition into my mid-50s where there is the likelihood of early dementia developing. I hear there is a relationship between brain injury early in life and the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s in later life.

I have had my share of head injuries — most inflicted by human hands and a few by accidents. I remember when my mother slammed my head so hard against the wall that it left a permanent hole. As a child, the hole remained for awhile in the off-white paint that decorated our walls in the black and white house. I remember an attempt to jump rope at the age of 5 or 6 led to me tripping myself on the cord and falling headfirst into the concrete sidewalk. I remember, at the age of 10 or 11 maybe, my mother accusing me of stealing her laundromat money and deciding to jump on me, banging my head into the wooden floor. I remember the car accident at 13, the slight turn of my head and then blackness. …


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iStock

The permanent and lingering nature of race, and a belief in a racial hierarchy remains deeply embedded in our public institutions in the United States and in our collective consciousness.

A recent article published by the News & Observer shared a report from the Southern Coalition of Social Justice outlining the racial inequity that exists in school discipline. Specifically, the article goes on to state that Black students receive short-term suspensions at disproportionate rates.

Roughly a decade ago, folks were using the school-to-prison pipeline to draw connections between unfair discipline in public schools and the overrepresentation of Black and Brown youth in the criminal justice system. …


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Photo by Daniel McCullough on Unsplash

She was eleven when she left El Salvador with her mother and younger brother to join her father in the United States. The gangs in El Salvador and other internal violence led to her family’s decision to leave the country.

She spoke Spanish her entire life. Coming to the United States meant she had to learn English in a period of her development where the acquisition and mastery of a new language would present some difficulty. …


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Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

Socialization is “the process by which we learn the ways of a given society or social group so that we can function within it” (Elkin & Handel, 1960, p.2). Socialization conveys the behaviors, emotions needed to navigate the social world and influences how young children construct meaning. For Black parents, socialization requires savvy, racial literacy, and conscientiousness. Black parents can use positive racial socialization as a counter tactic to build the cognitive apparatus children need to navigate a disorienting and hostile environment.

I had a brilliant mother who knew the power of positive racial socialization through her lived experience. In my mother’s household, education was an expectation and loving your Blackness a necessity. She knew she had to convey specific messages, behaviors, and symbols to us on the myriad identities and expressions of our Blackness. For example, using the term “Black is beautiful” is a message that conveyed pride, self-acceptance, and redefined the derogatory pejorative into one of solidarity and acceptance. It was her brilliance that took my siblings and me on frequent trips back and forth to the library. Our books were those selected from the “Afro-American” literature section and were those like Moja Means One: Swahili Counting Book, Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, and the Snowy Day.


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Photo by Mubarak Show on Unsplash

I recently attended the high school graduation ceremony for my nephew, another young black man leaving high school successfully. However, as a group of choral singers attended to their graduation song “Take me home, country roads”, I could not help but to put his accomplishment in a context. For those of you unfamiliar with the song, the chorus goes like this:

Country roads, take me home
To the place, I belong
West Virginia, mountain mama
Take me home, country roads

We celebrated this young man walking across the stage and his journey from making that initial step into kindergarten to completing high school. I could not help thinking about how he entered a world where he found his sense of belonging through athleticism. Yet, across each stage of his life course from elementary, to middle school and high school, there were reminders that he did not belong. There were those agitators who suspended him because he was around the wrong crowd or because he appeared disrespectful. …


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My mother passed almost 30-years ago and I still think about her. She was light and darkness; inside her 5-foot 9-inch frame. Pain and love were thrown inside the brown paper bag of my lunch box every morning from the age of four up until early middle school. I know deep inside she loved us immensely yet, sometimes, she tried to break our small black bodies from sticks, wooden spoons, switches, and belts. Some of her discipline tactics seemed to reflect her time in the Marines, isolation and food deprivation. …


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Photo by Olu Famule on Unsplash

The cumulative stressors Black males encounter in the public education system assault their physical bodies and psyche; subtle and pervasive interactions become points of tension as they attempt to construct a positive identity in a devaluing, erasing, and invalidating space. When schools exclude, isolate, and remove Black males from educational opportunities it can be disorienting and lead them to find opportunities, acceptance, and validation elsewhere. And, if they are unable to find acceptance and validation through their family and extended family structures, then they will seek it elsewhere. Some access community organizations in their neighborhood, a place that gives them access to supportive adults, mentors, coaches, and friends. …


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Image by alinemais on Pixabay

Across from me, this white man proceeded to tell me about his childhood and growing up in a small town. “I was able to roam free, you know, run down dirt roads miles and miles away from my house and knew I could just be.”

I sat listening and thinking over and over again about how he “knew he could just be.” I learned early about limits and the boundaries around me that proceeded to inform me how my freedom would end. …

About

Mind Reader

Reader, my own, I am a CP and love writing my opinion about love, justice, and soul food.

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