I Am My Ancestors' Wildest Dreams

For too many Black parents, the scope of our “ancestors' wildest dreams” is narrow and rooted in the same systems that kept them in chains. We need to dream bigger, and it starts with how we parent our children.

Shot of a young dad holding his daughter up in the air with his arms and legs at home
Photo: Getty Images

In Kindred's recurring column Conscious Parenting for the Culture, Parenting Coach Yolanda Williams explores embodying our ancestors' wildest dreams by decolonizing our parenting and learning how to navigate the intersections of fear and freedom to raise the next generation of emotionally well, confident children.

As I scroll through Instagram, I notice many of the posts are captioned #myancestorswildestdreams and everyone is always so beautiful and happy, posing in front of their house, or car, or with their diploma. But there's always something about those pictures and that hashtag that make me lift my brow a bit.

From what I see, the scope of how many of us think about our ancestors and what they'd dream for us is narrow. It is rooted in the same systems that kept them in chains, enslaved to white capitalist patriarchy. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to steal anyone's joy or tell you not to be proud of your accomplishments. I'm saying, we need to dream bigger and it starts with our children.

I can't imagine that our ancestors' wildest dreams included treating our children how their enslavers treated them. I believe our ancestors, who were owned and bred like cattle, only to have their children be ripped away from them and sold to the highest bidder would dream that we would raise our children non-violently, with compassion, respect, and dignity. You can't convince me that a stolen people whose bodies and children did not belong to them would be filled with joy at the state of Black children today, who are dying at disproportionate rates from systemic oppression, abuse, and suicide. The children are not OK.

If we want to change that grim reality, we have to start examining if our dreams and those we have for our families and our communities make us the gatekeepers for the systems that are killing our kids.

Our ancestors dreamed of, and hoped for, liberation. They wanted to be seen as fully human, to be treated with respect and dignity, to have agency and the ability to advocate for themselves without harmful repercussions, and not to have to toil for someone else's gain. I truly believe our ancestors' wildest dreams are about how we see ourselves, nurture our children, and care for one another.

I believe they'd want us to fully embody peace as our birthright, love as our home, joy as our natural state of being, abundance all around us, and for us to know that all parts of us are seen and welcome. At least that's what I believe my ancestors dreamed for my family and me. And it's my pleasure to make their dreams come true.

Our children need us to dream bigger, think inward, and transform our pain into peace. They need us to learn about decolonizing our parenting and start on the path to healing, individually and collectively. The journey to being a more conscious, intentional parent is never easy but, for our kids and for the culture, it's definitely worth it. Join me on this journey to being more conscious, more intentional and more connected, breaking generational chains, and embodying what it means to be our ancestors' wildest dreams.

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