One day over lunch with a friend of mine, she mentioned how she and her boyfriend had begun serious talks of marriage and children. But, what really struck me about the entire conversation was her comment, “If we have daughters, I don’t want to raise them in the States.”
Stunned, I asked her, “Where would you raise them?”
“Trinidad,” she replied. (Her boyfriend is from Trinidad.)
“But, why?” I asked flabbergasted.
“I just don’t think the U.S. is the best place to raise girls of color.”
I accepted her answer, but that I turned the idea over and over in my head.
It not only saddened me that my dear friend would possibly move far away from me, but the fact that she didn’t want to raise her own daughters here astounded me.And, then it got me to thinking.
What would make my friend have such thoughts?
I think back to where she was raised in the state of Texas. She attended schools where she would oftentimes be the only person of color in her class photo. She, like myself, grew up feeling like the ambassador for the entire black race whenever she was around her white peers. It was like “S*** White Girls Say to Black Girls” on steroids. In some ways it became a large burden to bear. But, she was able to withstand it, and questions about her hair and skin color never took major blows to her self-esteem. To this day she is one of the most confident people I know.
But what is it that is going on in America where we fear worse experiences for our daughters? Is it the media? Is it everyday people on the street? Even with positive images like Oprah and Michelle Obama in our presence there is a still a pervasive problem of stereotypes that permeate our society and leave our girls fighting to overcome them every day that they step into the world.
My friend may be fearful of her daughter experiencing the daily onslaught of questions, and messages from the media that her African phenotype (she is of Nigerian descent) is undesirable when it comes to beauty in this country. She may fear that her daughter’s spirit might not be strong enough to withstand the downplaying of her black culture. But, I believe that if she instills the same values and knowledge that she has obtained over the years in her future daughter she will be better equipped to handle what comes her way. And, I’m not saying that some experiences won’t hurt her feelings, but to understand that the media and her peers won’t always have her best interest at heart in valuing her growth as a woman of color is crucial. And to know that early on, her future daughter’s experiences may help her to flourish just like her mother in the U.S.A.
Would you ever consider raising your children overseas?