As a community-focused company, Kabrita USA strives to be inclusive and to continuously celebrate diversity. In honor of Black History Month, Kabrita USA is featuring a BIPOC Parenting Series, for the entire month of February. The BIPOC Parenting Series centres BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) parents’ experiences. Our goal is to enhance greater representation of BIPOC parents in the media, as well as to amplify BIPOC voices and stories.
Today, we are sharing Damarqio’s story about overcoming the negative stereotypes and narratives, as a black man and father, that are perpetrated by the media.
As a young black man who grew up without a sense of connection and acceptance by his biological father, the last thing that I ever wanted to be was a parent. The pain of rejection and fear of repeating the cycle always seemed to haunt me. I can remember the day that my wife, La’Nyce, shared the news that she was pregnant. At that moment, I felt a range of emotions and couldn’t truly process them at time. From anger to sadness to fear, I did not know how to embrace this news in the moment. Looking back now, I recognize that was a normal response for many first-time parents. Over the years, I would say that the lessons that my children have taught me are just as rewarding as the lessons that I hope to teach them.
One of the most traumatic experiences for a parent is to lose a child. For my wife and I, we have experienced this multiple times. From unforeseen death to miscarriage to known birth defects, we have experienced it all and no time was easy to process. I think often about the past trauma and grief of my ancestors, from being kidnapped to their enslavement to demanding their freedom, and they managed to still be parents. So, while I know my parenting experience has come with much trauma and pain, I also know that I am a descendent of strong people who are not strangers to unique parenting and life experiences.
Overcoming the negative stereotypes and narrative that are perpetrated by the media. As a black father, I should be an absent, deadbeat dad who doesn’t engage with his children. The reality is that more Black fathers are more involved in the lives of their children. It is the journey to overcome the plague of these stereotypes and narrative are the hardest part for many fathers like myself. I could easily fall into the trap of being an absent father, but for me, it is important that I give my family what I always longed to have—a strong black male who is caring and compassionate.
Living in a city like Detroit, we have the privilege to access many Black and diverse spaces for both educational and recreational support in our backyard. It is the experiential support for us that is most valuable – from the Motown Museum to the Charles H. Wright Museum, we can always find a piece of our heritage to help raise our daughter in the most authentic and nurturing way. Finding your tribe and support system – no matter where you live – is very important in one’s role as a parent.
Raising a black child to love non-BIPOC who may not ever love you back is both a consistent and ever-evolving struggle. You never want to teach your child to hate or strongly dislike someone. But there is a fine line between disliking someone because of the hate they show you and teaching your child the hateful history of BIPOC in the United States. While I’m grateful that my daughter can make a friend with virtually anyone, no matter their ethnicity or race; my wife and I are very aware to the fact that we must also educated her on why some people may never show that same regard in return. But it is not easy doing that with a toddler; but it is necessary, especially in today’s social climate.
As we introduce at-home learning, I’m most proud that as a parent I can influence what and how my child learns. While I feel a quality education should include a formal educator and socialization with other kids, I have been grateful of our ability to introduce counter-stories and lessons that focus on people who look like us, as opposed to having our children forced to learn from narratives written from a European or white perspective.
It is my hope that mental health and self-care become more of a priority for our children as they grow up. For me, I feel like I suppressed a lot of emotions and thoughts growing up. But now I am digging up those years of trauma and deeply rooted emotions that trigger so much later in life. It is my goal to always allow my children as they mature to share how they feel in an appropriate way and give the respective space for mental wellness.
To every parent who is on this journey, I hope you know that you are not alone. Whether it is at learning or social injustice, there is a community of people who are standing with you. I often seek my tribe (who I can identify with) for support when things in the village get a bit overwhelming.
It is so important to share and uplift the stories of BIPOC in the mainstream media as the representation is lacking. Growing up, it was hard to find people who looked like me and displayed positive character traits of Black manhood. This gap left me searching for my identity as a man, husband, and father. In such a fast-pace world, we have so much work left to do to ensure that everyone feels included, accepted, and valued in this big world.
Kabrita USA BIPOC Parenting Series shares genuine stories written by parents from the BIPOC community. Each story offers a different perspective from their personal parenting experience. To read more stories, please visit our Nourish Blog.