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16/01/2017 04:59 SAST | Updated 16/01/2017 04:59 SAST

Why I Am Not Ready To Bring A Black Child Into This World

As a black woman, my children will be black and I know how the world treats black boys and black girls.

Malebo Moloto
Supplied
Malebo Moloto

I have heard it time and time again from different people in my life how great of a mother I will be one day and I believe it with all of my being.

However.

I am not ready to have children. In various conversations, I have listed various reasons for why I am not ready and all of them really have to do with how the world will embrace my children.

As a black woman, my children will be black and I know how the world treats black boys and black girls. I know this world will not embrace them the way I will. I know this world will not be nurturing to them like I will. I know this world will shut them down at every turn and every chance it gets. I know this world will spend time trying to break the sweet, gentle spirits of my black children and I know that I am not ready to be a mother.

So much happened last year and my reactions to those events have further confirmed that I am not ready to be a mother. From the crèche in Centurion, Sodwana Bay, and the white woman ranting in Braamfontein about kaffirs, to the black men being killed by the police in the States, I am not ready.

As a black mother, I would be spending time affirming my child only to have the world show and tell them something else.

Being a mother to a black child will mean that I will be catching a case ever other day because they world is constantly trying black children. The crèche would have got all the work from me after that picture surfaced. I remember that it hurt my heart because already from such a young age, that child was being taught and shown in a subtle way that they are different. They cannot even sit at the same table and eat cupcakes like the other children, the message to the little black child was to show them how different they are.

As a black mother, I would be spending time affirming my child only to have the world show and tell them something else.

I remember how angry and sad it made me all at once because I realised that that little black child had a black mother who was gutted. To know that when your baby boy or baby girl puts on their uniform you need to hug them extra tight because you dont know what ways the world will try them.

Over the past year, multiple black men were gunned down and killed by police officers in those United States of America. Black men who were fathers, husbands, brothers, friends, children, and were killed for doing nothing wrong. They were killed in the most violent of ways and all we are left with the unsettling feeling of knowing it's because they were black.

Being black was enough to get them killed.

The 7th of July 2016, was escpecially a hard day.

I remember sitting on the bus and crying when I was watching Alton's son cry during the family press conference. Watching that black boy cry from the depth of his soul over his father was really heart-breaking. To know that he will forever know how his father died, with no cause, just violence and anger.

I know I am not ready to be a mother because I am afraid of what this world will do to my black children and I do not know how I can go about protecting them.

There is so much that gets put on black children by the world of how they will be deemed worthy.

Think about class issues.

It means having to think about how the class of my life, which in term will be the class of my children's life will set them apart. I heard a conversation between two friends and it was basically summed up to say that class matters when police are killing black people. They said there is a class of black people who are being targeted because the police believe they can kill them with little to no consequence.

I thought about what they were saying and it made me sad because I can see why some black people can reason that way.

The problem with that means I have to teach my children something that I think is wrong. Imagine this argument being made that while we are afraid as middle class black people, our degrees and social standings will save us, to some extent. This is wrong.

My class, my family, my academic credentials, my network, my friends, do not make me infallible but they pad the vulnerabilities a little bit.

This is the horrible classed truth of the matter, that it is largely not middle class and up black people being killed by the police. And this is why respectability politics become such an easy, although incorrect, coping mechanism. We distance ourselves, we become exceptional. Delude ourselves into thinking and believing that the conditional "privileges" given to us will ultimately protect us.

They won't.

My class, my family, my academic credentials, my network, my friends, do not make me infallible but they pad the vulnerabilities a little bit. When you learn about being black through this lens, it teaches you to savour the fact that "I am an EXCEPTIONAL black" and not like those other black people. My children will be condescending individuals.

The other safety measure is having to teach my children to be excellent as a means to survive. We have been historically excellent and this has been historically erased all the time and our people have subsequent been called lazy.

Whenever black excellence is bought up I always feel some type of way. I don't really know how to explain it but I will try. Everything we do needs to be excellent in order to be taken seriously. Everything we do needs to be excpetional in order to even get a foot in the door. Its thats old age saying that you have to be twice as good in order to get half of what white people have.

I want to be able to tell my children to be and do whatever they want but the world will not let them. The world will monitor them at every turn.

So is this another safety measure I need to teach my children? They need to be excellent in order to be seen? The truth of the matter is that black people reserve the right to mediocrity. Why must we be excellent to justify our existence when other don't have to?

Johnny can get by being mediocre, but not my children, they need to be great in order to justify where they are and what they have and I do not want to teach that to my children. A world that only embraces them when they are exceptional seems tough. The trouble with this line of thinking is that it means you cant fail or succeed in peace, you are constantly being monitored. Black failure is so heavy and final and no one talks about this pressure.

I want to be able to tell my children to be and do whatever they want but the world will not let them. The world will monitor them at every turn.

Its the idea of the talented tenth.

W. E. B. Du Bois used the term "the talented tenth" to describe the likelihood of one in ten black men becoming leaders of their race in the world, through methods such as continuing their education, writing books, or becoming directly involved in social change. He strongly believed that blacks needed a classical education to be able to reach their full potential.

"The Negro race, like all races, is going to be saved by its exceptional men. The problem of education, then, among Negroes must first of all deal with the Talented Tenth; it is the problem of developing the Best of this race that they may guide the Mass away from the contamination and death of the Worst."

It shouldn't have to be this way.

All of this bought me back to what has been happening over the past year. Lives of husbands, fathers and children lost and changed.

I worry for children I do not have yet.

And that is why I am not ready to be a mother.