I know what you are thinking and want to insert an eye roll, but the truth is yes every parenting relationship has its set of difficulties, but since I am a Black woman raising Black children. This is all I know.
I can only tell you what my experiences have yielded. I can only say what my challenges are. Even though I come from a family I often affectionately refer to as the United Nations. I can’t tell you the problems my sister is having raising her half-Mexcian a quarter Irish, and a quarter Filipino children is like. I can’t articulate what it was like for my brother to raise my half-Black half-Japanese nephew. I wouldn’t be able to speak to the joys of raising my White nephew in rural Tennessee.
What I can tell you is my 12-year-old son isn’t allowed to play with toy guns, and my nephews don’t understand why. What I can also say is in my house we watch Black-ish every week just to find out how to navigate the tightrope that is upward Black mobility. It is what the Cosby Show never talked about in a way that has never been articulated in public before. It is the how to lavish my children with the reward of my hard work while teaching them about what it means to be Black and have a cultural foundation that should make them proud, WOKE, and successful on their own terms. It is literally the conversations I have with my girlfriends. Like moving daughter to a White school district when I get my house or keeping her in the already above standard charter school in Chicago that she attends.
No one size fits all manual
There is no one size fits all manual, but Denene Millner is knocking down the fourth wall of Black Parenting in her newest book, “MyBrownBaby: On the Joys and Challenges of Raising African American Children.” This is the first of many more fantastic titles coming from her very own imprint, Denene Millner Books.
It is an honest and insightful collection of essays written from her critically acclaimed website MyBrownBaby.com
Her blog has become the roadmap for Black and Brown mothers as they navigate the uncharted waters of modern Black motherhood. She’s often saying what I am thinking, and she writes better than I ever could. From her struggles to raising a beautiful mahogany skinned Black girl in the age of Video Vixen turned housewife streets of Atlanta. With chapter titles like “Black and Proud: Tending to the Self-Esteem of Black Children” to “How I Help my Daughter Embrace Her Beauty” there is something for every mom at every stage of your parenting journey. Parenting isn’t for punks, and you need a BFF like Denene to help you through it. After publishing almost 2,000 posts aimed at lifting the voices of moms and dads of color, she’s now curated them into the first-ever print collection of the website’s most important essays. It’s available now via Amazon.
My Brown Baby is Beautiful
I am a mother to a 10-year-old daughter who probably consumes way more than her fair share of beauty videos on Youtube. That’s what you get when you grow up with a mother who’s a beauty blogger and a grandmother who’s a Mary Kay cosmetics veteran. It becomes an occupational hazard. While I’ve found it easy to set age boundaries for what tint of gloss she can wear to recently ending the era, which is a staple for every Black Girl, a rite of passage. She’s no longer wearing barrettes at the end of her platts. I kinda wanted to cry. She’s still my baby, but she’s growing up, and I have to balance between allowing her the freedom to have a personal style and knowing what is age appropriate for each stage. She’s beautiful. She’s that kind of light-skinned girl that folks love to hate with natural curls and beautiful brown eyes. I know that girl, I was that girl. I was the mire of many looks and the envy of plenty of girls who thought it would be better to fight me than to befriend me. I am leading her through this journey. Watching my daughter enter the world is like sending out your priceless Faberge egg into the world praying it comes back in one piece and still full of shine.
Much of what Millner is expressing is her own struggles with beauty and the natural transformation that all women walk, but the nuances of living in her skin color, and how to impart wisdom from that journey to her daughter in a way that feels authentic and honest. We could all use more self-love, and Denene is giving us the space to talk with our girls and boys about what it means to be beautiful at every age and every stage in a way that is right for your brown baby.
I can’t wait to pour over the rest of the stories from MyBrownBaby: On the Joys and Challenges of Raising African American Children. I know what it is like to raise two Brown children. I am living this life hoping to teach them about how they matter and what is truth in a world full of alternative facts. I want their center of gravity to be rooted in just right amount of values, and a dash of I can do any damn thing I want in this world. I encourage you to get a copy of Denene Millner’s book. This is the parenting book we all need, and it is carving out a new lane in the Parenting Genre. I am excited to see what is next from this seasoned author and her new imprint.