Today marks 4 years since my last embryo transfer, which resulted in my beautiful, brilliant and strong-willed 3-year-old daughter. As I was reflecting on this day, I found the picture of my embryos that I was given before the transfer. I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude that science paved the way for her. At the time, I deferred to learning the gender of either embryo to protect my heart in case the all too familiar chance of miscarrying occurred again. Having a 5-year-old boy already, I was secretly hoping one of them would be a girl.
What I didn’t know at that time, was the responsibility that would come with raising a bi-racial girl in the present (or past) America. The exposure of hatred, ignorance and racism continues to sit heavily on my heart, driving a deep fear of helplessness to protect them. I’ve questioned if I was qualified for such a responsibility to raise a confident and strong woman, when I constantly struggle with my own.
In my journey of understanding the most critical values to teach my daughter, I was devastated to learn that I will have to communicate the harsh reality that her childhood years are not equivalent to those of a white girl.
Due to the horrific combination of racism and sexism, she will experience something called adultification. In short, her days of appearing innocent are limited to those compared to her white peers. The world will view her as much older based on her body type, as a threat because of her skin, she will be sexualized at a much younger age and society will attempt to make her more docile.
This is not okay! No child should ever have to carry this burden because society is threatened by their skin. Every black and brown girl deserves to know that their innocence is just as valuable and they deserve the same protection as their white peers. Their differences should be celebrated and appreciated for everything they are. Every girl deserves to be empowered to know their worth and encouraged to be unapologetically themselves. They are our future and our world changers.
Growing up in a predominately white community, this was something I was never taught or made aware of. I probably would not have understood had it not been for the gift of my daughter. I had my own ignorance towards the reality of what women of color endure starting at such a young age. The strength, resiliency and bravery that black women possess is unparalleled. Not only do they experience it, but they also must prepare their children for it, and that should never be.
It needs to be discussed, it needs to be called out, and it needs to change. This conversation should not have to happen between me and my daughter. No mother should be forced to unveil their daughter’s innocence to make white people more comfortable. Black lives still matter even when the marches subside. Work still needs to be done and conversations still need to happen. Our schools, criminal justice system and society as whole need to recognize the impact that adultification can have on these precious girls and make it stop. Life can be hard enough, robbing children of their youth should never be a part of that.