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In my post 16 Things Black People Wish They Could Explain To Their White Friends I talked about things that black folks do differently. I think those differences have a lot to do with the way we’ve been raised. Here’s a post that will give you a little bit of insight into what it’s like to be raised in a black home.
Of course, every black person has been raised differently so these things won’t apply to everyone! What you have to understand, as a child in a black household you have no rights. There is no Constitution. That’s the first rule of engagement.
Or rather, let me say you have no rights except for the ones your parents choose to endow on you. The right to education? Black parents will give their blood, sweat and tears to make sure you have the best education they can afford. The right to healthcare, food and water? Standard, you got it.
That was their idea of rights.
As a child you knew that for as long as you were in your parents’ house, the idea that you had full “rights” wasn’t going to fly. Here’s what I mean:
#1 The right to equality. Your parents didn’t care if you were 4 or 24, equality with your them was not an option. To this day, even though you’re making your own money and do your own thing, it’s still hard for you not to defer to their demands.
#2 The right to freedom and security of person, which includes the right not to be deprived of freedom arbitrarily. Being a teenager in a black household felt a lot like being a prisoner. You said you wanted to go to the party, your mom said no. You said you were going anyway, she said you know where the door is and if you walk through it you better not be coming back. Ever. Conversation closed.
#3 The right to privacy. From a very young age you reconcile yourself to the fact that privacy and personal space is not a value. You caught your mom going through your diary once. Relatives invaded the house without warning and you were forcibly evicted from your room. No one cared that it was ‘your’ space.
#4 Freedom of religion, belief and opinion. Opinions for who?! When you start earning your own doe you can buy the right to an opinion. As for religion, you were more terrified of your mother’s wrath than God’s so you’d be up early for church on Sunday morning, in your Sunday best, singing those hymns like you meant it. Oh, you don’t believe in venerating the ancestors? Let’s not even go there.
#5 The right to life. Your mother never hesitated to remind you that she brought you into this world and could take you out of it (with that look in her eye).
#6 Freedom of expression. The idea of ‘expressing yourself’ was something you only saw on YoTV. As for you and your house, children were there to be seen and not heard.
#7 Freedom of association. You remember living in fear of your mother catching you talking to that boy on the corner. Woe betide you if this happened, you didn’t even want to find out what the consequences would be.
#8 Freedom of trade, occupation and profession.
This is what you told your parents you’d be putting on your university application. Actually you’d chosen Politics, Drama and English but you couldn’t tell them because to them politics isn’t a profession, drama is a movie genre and English is a language that people speak not study. You waited until the middle of your second year to tell them that you were studying Drama. It’s that deep.
#9 The right to property. You had to share everything. When you were a child the things that you were possessive over were things like sweets and toys. Forget that. When you cousin sisters and cousin brothers visited, you knew that you had to share those things and your parents weren’t interested in your complaints.
#10 Right to housing. Being in that house was a privilege, not a right and they would remind you every chance they got. You didn’t get gold stars for doing the dishes, polishing the floor or helping with supper, it was expected. If someone gave you a dollar for every time that you heard the words, AS LONG AS YOU ARE UNDER MY ROOF and I’m paying the bills… You would be a millionaire.
We learned so many things from our parents, especially the importance of respect, love and discipline. While our parents made many mistakes, we honour them for being there for us and bringing us this far! Ours is a different generation and we will probably do things differently but we salute our parents for who they are and who they made us.
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This post does not condone the abuse of children or anyone else. If you think it does you’re missing the point!