Black Child, You Are Brilliant: 5 Quotes And Songs To Remind Our Kids Just How Great They Are
"While we can’t always control the horrendous deeds of others, we can help make sure our children don’t fall victim to the internalized racism that can develop when kids grow up in a nation that doesn’t value their lives."
It’s 2018 and a lot of people still ain’t tryna win. What does winning look like? To me, it looks like learning to lead with love so we don’t become self-enslaved by racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia and any other type of "ism" or phobia that keeps us from recognizing the humanity in all people. "Isms" and phobias make people think ugly thoughts and, therefore, do ugly things. And in worst case scenarios, these thoughts and actions result in lives lost.
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Unfortunately, due to the murky election of “Trigger 45,” so many people who are invested in maintaining the fallacy of white supremacy have shown just how much they are committed to losing at life. They don’t want to join the cool crowd. They want to stay behind while many of us are trying to move this nation forward. Some of them can be saved, and others not so much, but in the meantime, they are surely doing a lot of damage, and our children are feeling it.
While we can’t always control the horrendous deeds of others, we can help make sure our children don’t fall victim to the internalized racism that can develop when kids grow up in a nation that doesn’t value their lives. Because it’s one thing for someone to think our children are undeserving of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” but it’s another thing for our children to actually believe it.
Here are some empowering quotes and songs that all black kids should memorize and internalize as they strive to live their best lives in hostile territory.
"Please try to remember that what they believe, as well as what they do and cause you to endure, does not testify to your inferiority but to their inhumanity and fear."
— James Baldwin
This quote is at the top of mind these days, not because I don’t already know it’s true, but for the simple fact that it’s a useful reminder on days when you feel overwhelmed by it all.
In the whole world you know
There are billion boys and girls
Who are young, gifted and black
And that's a fact!
— from the song "To Be Young, Gifted and Black," performed by Nina Simone, with lyrics by Weldon Irvine
My mother taught me Nina Simone’s song “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” when I was in primary school, and I never forgot it. Nina Simone and Weldon Irvine composed it specifically for black children, so please make sure your children know it! They can even join the Young, Gifted, and Black Instagram challenge. Listen to the full song, if you have never heard it. So many great artists have recorded it!
"Say it loud: I'm black and I'm proud!"
— from the song "Say It Loud - I'm Black and I'm Proud,” performed by James Brown, and co-writtern with Alfred "Pee Wee" Ellis
This song is a banger at any age. If you have not already introduced your kids to it, do so as soon as possible; the earlier the better! Kids respond well to repetition, which is a key structural element of this powerful song.
"You can't be afraid to fail. It's the only way you succeed — you're not gonna succeed all the time, and I know that."
— LeBron James
King James has a word that our children need to hear! Because we want them to strive for greatness, they have to understand that they will fail, but that confidence is developed in trying, failing, overcoming and succeeding.
"If they don't give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair."
— Shirley Chisholm
I love this quote because we all need to know that although we live in a country tainted by structural and institutional racism, we have a right to be here and to have our say in the direction of this nation. And as the great soul sista Solange often reminds us, “We built this.”
What quotes or songs would you add to this list?