Teaching My Kids About Their Racial Identity is My Responsibility as a Mom

Creating a safe place is essential to raising kids who are strong, confident, and secure. This includes building a sense of cultural pride.

An image of a house on a colorful background.
Photo: Getty Images.

Find myself thinking often of what home should mean to my five children (one girl, four boys). I try to create a space that affirms their Blackness, that tells them positive things about who they are and what they have to offer. It's vital that they feel strong and confident when they go into the world, and to do that, they need a place where they feel protected, where they can take off the armor and breathe. A place that allows them to process feelings, inhabit their identity, feel that their voice is supported, and build a sense of belonging. A sacred place to refuel and recharge. The two principles in our home: "You are your brother's keeper" and "Practice the Platinum Rule" (treat others the way they want to be treated).

As a Black mom, I continuously pour back into them, building a strong racial identity and sense of cultural pride. My family started an ancestral search a few summers ago. As we dig into our African history, we talk about the sacrifices made for my children to have opportunities and freedoms that were stripped from the generations that came before. I see my Black children, so grand and majestic, standing on the shoulders of these resilient people. I remind them to take pride in being the chosen ones, the generation that gets to live out our ancestors' dreams.

They need a place where they feel protected, where they can take off the armor and breathe. A sacred place to refuel and recharge.

And I cannot explain my delight in watching, teaching, and raising Black boys who refuse to fit into anyone's box of who they're supposed to be. We have open and candid conversations about race, social justice, and defying and redefining the narrative of being Black and male. I constantly remind them: "You are more than how others define you." They question, push back—not in defiance but against inequities and injustices. Raising Black boys who believe the world owes them answers and respect is both my responsibility and my greatest pleasure.

Filling my children with radical self-love and unwavering support is essential to their doing good things. And so I build this home for them, where they know they are heard and where they hear counterarguments to the things the world tells them. I won't let outside messaging become louder than my voice—the one telling my kids they are beautiful, brilliant, and deserving of happiness.

Dr. Traci Baxley is a Parents advisor and the founder of Social Justice Parenting. She lives in Boca Raton, Florida.

This article originally appeared in Parents magazine's June 2021 issue as "Black Parenting Joy." Want more from the magazine? Sign up for a monthly print subscription here

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