Strange title today I know, surely everyone knows the answer to that one, or do they? I literally had to wonder if I was missing something when a friend of mine told me she had lost out on a property because they had given it to a “family”.
It angers me that on a clubhouse stage another friend of mine was told that she shouldn’t talk about mental health from the perspective of race, and it certainly angers me that despite living in a so called libral society free from the bonds of slavery my people are still shackled.
I can only speak as a single mother, because I am a single mother. I can only speak as a woman because I am a woman and I can only speak as a black person because I am black. When you ask me to offer my opinion on something I offer it as a black woman who also happens to be raising her children alone and the thought that in the eyes of someone else that means my children and I are not a “family” makes me angry beyond words.
I am unapologetically black and nobody has the right to tell me I shouldn’t talk about my trauma from my perspective as a black woman. Like it or not, we face the system differently to others. I remember the pain I was suffering on the labour ward with my son and being told I was exaggerating and just needed to use the gas and air and I’d be fine, before having to be rushed into surgery for an emergency c-section because apparently my word as a black woman means nothing. Before you tell me that this happens to other women too, black women are 4 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than a white woman and it’s no coincidence that black people are more likely to die of covid either. Why do you think the results of those investigations are still hushed? The only reason for it is the disparity of care they receive due to their perceived “strength” After all isn’t that the reason we were brought and sold in the first place?
I remember as a teen, being told that perhaps I should be a nursery nurse instead of my ambition to be a lawyer or social worker, despite having better grades than many and I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being a nursery nurse, I did go on to do the job and love it but why couldn’t I get a job that required a degree? What was it that the career advisor saw in me that told her it was unachievable for someone like me? Nothing but the colour of my skin. P.S madam career advisor, I now hold 3 degrees.
I also remember sitting in the staff room of one of my previous work places and listening to the other teachers rant about particular children and how, “It’s the single mums that are the problem.” I kindly had to remind them that this single mother sat right next to them as a peer, not only works her ass of to provide for her children but has worked since the age of 15 and is raising children to be non-judgmental human beings. This is one of the reasons I got into teaching, I didn’t want children, especially black children, to continue to be told they could not achieve all that they wanted to in life.
So back to my initial question; what is a family? A family is, in my humble opinion and closely agreed with by Google, a group of people who love each other where there is at least one adult that has people that depend on them. When you start saying that single parents living with their children are not a family, you shackle them, you tell them that in your eyes they are not whole. You tell them that despite how they got to that position, they are not worthy of the same life chances as everyone else and you feed into their already fragile self confidence.
Something has got to change and I will be one of the change makers.