A mother with her child; sombre


I’m Black, I’m Proud And I Broke Down In Front Of My Child Last Week

Jun 5, 2020

This piece is in partnership with ByBlacks.com

Just when I thought becoming the parent of a special needs child during a pandemic couldn’t get any harder — it did.

It started last week in the U.S. with Christian Cooper, the birdwatcher whose life was threatened for filming a woman who chose to weaponize her privilege rather than put her dog on a leash.

Then came George Floyd’s repeated pleas for air before taking his last breath as an unbothered police officer calmly knelt on his neck with pocketed hands in place.

And before I could make sense of what I was feeling, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old Toronto woman, fell to her death from her highrise while in the presence of police officers who had been called moments before to intervene.

"Racism isn’t just a Black problem, it’s an everyone problem." This mom knows she'll have to talk to her son about racism soon, so where do you start? Read her story here.

The protests, marches, demonstrations and press conferences followed. As I watched the media feed in disbelief and horror, I prayed for numbness to set in because I was too tired to feel. Too drained to think of how the authorities would explain it away. Too fatigued to consider all the arguments I could make on social media that I’ll never post for fear of losing my job. Too exhausted to wonder why I should bother teaching my child about her strength, beauty, freedom and intelligence — knowing these attributes are threats to white supremacy and will result in her oppression.

"African-Canadians know all too well that a good job, quiet neighbourhood and stable family do not, in any way, guarantee the safety and well-being of their children."

So rather than feel, I cleaned, cooked, turned off my television, put down my phone and attempted — foolishly — to forget about racism. Until a phone call came through that I couldn’t ignore. It was my daughter’s therapist calling for her regularly scheduled appointment.

I tried holding it together, and was scrambling to set up my laptop when my daughter's therapist asked me a simple question: “How are you?” I struggled to swallow the tears and stop myself from choking on my words. How would I explain that I was not OK and doubted whether I, or my child, ever would be? How do I tell this well-meaning blond-haired millennial that I’m trying to avoid being triggered by viewing the incessant global genocide of my community?

I couldn’t. The words refused to come, but the sobbing was inescapable.

As she waited patiently for me to regain my composure, eventually I was able to express my gratitude for her genuine concern and apologized for forgetting my daughter’s appointment. I asked for a few moments to talk to my child before we joined her online. When I looked up, my eight-year-old’s almond-shaped brown eyes met mine. Concerned and startled by the tears streaming down my face, my little empath cautiously approached me as I crumpled into the sofa. It was then that I had to explain, again, why another black man is dead and why even if she tries to help someone, she has to be careful or she could be hurt too.

"The stark reality is that racism is alive and well in our country" — this mom is committed to raising the next generation of Canadians, who value and advocate for equality. Read her story here.

The fact that my daughter has a therapist, nurse and personal support worker (PSW) to support her health needs from the comfort of our home is a Canadian privilege I do not take for granted. I have stable employment and my legal background gives me the ability to navigate the complexities of fighting anti-Black racism within the largest school board in the country. Yet, somehow, I still question if Black parents and their allies are fighting a losing battle against a system I often refer to as "polite apartheid."

African-Canadians know all too well that a good job, quiet neighbourhood and stable family do not, in any way, guarantee the safety and well-being of their children. Growing up in an all-white Quebec suburb didn’t shield me from discrimination, but in actuality provided countless opportunities on how to confront it. Thankfully, by celebrating life, my proud Jamaican parents taught me to never allow the heaviness of racial trauma to consume us.

Following in that tradition, immediately after my daughter’s session, I told her Mommy was done crying and instead it was time to dance. Mind you, our laughable attempt to keep up with Beyoncé’s choreography may not seem like a practical solution to injustice. But when the waves of hopelessness sweep over me I am emboldened by Audre Lorde’s wisdom, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Article Author True Daley
True Daley

True Daley is a proud adoptive mom of an eight-year-old girl and anti-Black racism advocate. The regular contributor to ByBlacks.com is also a multi-platform journalist and an award-winning performance artist who has appeared on CBC, CTV, BET and HBO. As an active member of BIPOC TV & Film in Toronto, she is currently developing an animated children's series for six- to nine-year-olds.

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