Black parents’ war on racial identity.

Children of African American descent are all familiar with their parents’ suggestions on how to make it in the white man’s world: “Don’t use slang — that’s ghetto.” “Press your hair for interviews.” “Stay quiet around cops.” “Don’t listen to rap music.”

Soon enough, the line between “knowing your place” in society and trying to “teach the blackout of you” begins to blur.

Our mothers comment offhandedly on how some curl patterns or skin tones are not as pretty as others. Our fathers come down on us for not being like “those black people” in the rougher areas of town, so don’t speak like them. Before we even got into school, we were getting our curls relaxed by black women in salons and being taught that how we were born is something of which to be ashamed. 

Our parents link their success to their assimilation. While each generation approaches an all-accepting world, we still have to be aware of the oppression that challenges the black community. In part, it is important for children to understand this from a young age. 

“If their parents don’t teach it to them, they’ll learn in the real world and be blindsided by it,” Anaya Wright, a junior at Georgia State and a member of Softer Touch, a sisterhood organization for women of color, said.

For example, Wright said that during her middle and high school careers, she did not realize that black people still needed to work twice as hard for the same recognition as white people in the workplace.

“Current kids and teens should be taught by their parents what it means to be black … in a white man’s country,” she said.

But what does it mean to be black? Sure, we might know what it means to be black in a white man’s world, but we are also being starved of our culture.

Our only conception of blackness is how it’s essentially a curse, something for which we have to endlessly compensate. We are constantly having to exceed expectations to make up for our blackness. Our race shouldn’t feel like a chore.

What do we know about black influencers? What do we know about the generational nature of gang activity and how it’s forced on young boys by the need to survive? What do we know about how this is only feeding into the white supremacist desire to eradicate black culture by pitting us against each other and those we view as lesser?

By sitting in silence, we allow our identity to become something shameful if it doesn’t placate white society. Influential figures like Nipsey Hussle go largely unknown until they’re violently taken away from us. 

Alongside these people, our sense of brotherhood, sisterhood and community dies. We are dividing our people to assimilate. Segregation wears a new face: that of our parents, who can scold rappers as gangsters with a straight face or excuse officers for murdering our brothers. We are bigger than our oppression.