Black mother and daughterOne day over lunch with a friend of mine, she mentioned how she and her boyfriend had begun serious talks of marriage and children. But, what really struck me about the entire conversation was her comment, “If we have daughters, I don’t want to raise them in the States.”

Stunned, I asked her, “Where would you raise them?”

“Trinidad,” she replied. (Her boyfriend is from Trinidad.)

“But, why?” I asked flabbergasted.

“I just don’t think the U.S. is the best place to raise girls of color.”

I accepted her answer, but that I turned the idea over and over in my head.

It not only saddened me that my dear friend would possibly move far away from me, but the fact that she didn’t want to raise her own daughters here astounded me.And, then it got me to thinking.

What would make my friend have such thoughts?

I think back to where she was raised in the state of Texas. She attended schools where she would oftentimes be the only person of color in her class photo. She, like myself, grew up feeling like the ambassador for the entire black race whenever she was around her white peers. It was like “S*** White Girls Say to Black Girls” on steroids. In some ways it became a large burden to bear. But, she was able to withstand it, and questions about her hair and skin color never took major blows to her self-esteem. To this day she is one of the most confident people I know.

But what is it that is going on in America where we fear worse experiences for our daughters? Is it the media? Is it everyday people on the street? Even with positive images like Oprah and Michelle Obama in our presence there is a still a pervasive problem of stereotypes that permeate our society and leave our girls fighting to overcome them every day that they step into the world.

My friend may be fearful of her daughter experiencing the daily onslaught of questions, and messages from the media that her African phenotype (she is of Nigerian descent) is undesirable when it comes to beauty in this country. She may fear that her daughter’s spirit might not be strong enough to withstand the downplaying of her black culture. But, I believe that if she instills the same values and knowledge that she has obtained over the years in her future daughter she will be better equipped to handle what comes her way. And, I’m not saying that some experiences won’t hurt her feelings, but to understand that the media and her peers won’t always have her best interest at heart in valuing her growth as a woman of color is crucial. And to know that early on, her future daughter’s experiences may help her to flourish just like her mother in the U.S.A.

Would you ever consider raising your children overseas? 

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  • Von

    Yes, if given the opportunity. My siblings and I were given this wonderful opportunity to live outside of the USA and I made sure that I too would give this same opportunity to my own children. I believe that it teaches tolerance among individuals just as long as they’re willing to have an open mind and not a closed one because of ignorance and the perceived mind-set of American superiority when it relates to other cultures and nations.

    My children and I returned back to the USA after 12 years abroad only to be met with a culture that some people looked at excelling in life as an act of ‘whiteness’ and mediocrity was the standard we should all aspire to. This attitude scared me to death and I worried that my own children would have to either defend themselves or become a part of it if they wanted to fit in.

    I thank GOD that I raised free-thinking individuals who didn’t follow anyone but themselves and embraced their own differences and chose to stand out instead of attempting to fit in. They came home and told me many times about the incidences from their black peers who questioned their reasons for being in multicultural group settings.

    On thing that my father taught us is that you can learn something from every one, so why limit your choices based on fear and fake pride?

    If you’re going to raise your children outside of the USA, ensure that you really go out and see the area where you live by learning the language, customs, etc. and fully immerse yourself by living like the locals do with an open mind because closed minds don’t see nada!

  • Laurie

    I’ve felt that way too, but mostly about boys. If I have sons, I would NOT want to raise them here. No way, no how. I was born and mostly raised abroad and it really does give you a different perspective of yourself and other races. I never truly experienced racism until living in the US.

  • Beantown Betty

    If you’re not one of the fortunate people who get the options of living overseas. I think it’s important to at least expose your children to the world outside of the US. I’ve been fortunate to have visited Spain, Portugal, Gibraltar and Morocco. Having these experiences showed me (1) how vast and diverse the world really is (2) that there’s more than one way of thinking and living. However no matter where a black person lives it’s important to speak openly and honestly about racism and instill the idea of black consciousness. Just because you’re overseas does not mean that a black person won’t experience racism. It just will rear it’s head in different ways. There’s pro’s and con’s to living anywhere : )