Being Black And Protecting Ourselves in the New Age of Jim Crow

A group gathered at a candlelight vigil at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md., on Sunday.CreditCarolyn Kaster/Associated Press

At this point, the instances—ranging from absurd to horrifying—are almost a daily occurrence. Angry, red-faced women hurling racist insults at Wal Mart, Sears and at festivals in Chicago. Nooses found at George Washington University, the National Museum of African American History and Culture and at a Washington DC construction site. Fatal stabbings on Portland trains and at the University of Maryland And earlier this week, Buzzfeed issued this report on how children across the nation are using rhetoric from Donald Trump's presidential campaign to bully and taint children of color.

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All of these terror attacks combined with the continued shootings of unarmed citizens by police, existing and newly proposed systemic racism spearheaded by the likes of Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos, Ku Klux Klan rallies and blatant voter disenfranchisement highly suggests a resurgence of good, old-fashioned Jim Crow. So what are we supposed to do in the face of it? And more importantly, how do we educate and protect our children?



If these various terror attacks would have been perpetrated by ISIS/ISIL sympathizers, then news media all across America would feature news segment after news segment on the horror of these events. Teary-eyed witnesses would express their fear and confusion and then specials would be produced specifically discussing the existential threat to America as we know it. Washington politicians would be holding hearings to get to the bottom of the problem and penning new legislation to increase protections. County and city officials would hold town halls teaching God-fearing, Christian citizens on how to alert police and shelter in place during Orlando night club-inspired active shooter situations. Journalists would publish a flurry of articles on how to properly educate and protect children on the scourge of Islamic terrorism sweeping the nation.

With regard to White hatred in all its various forms, ain’t none of that happening.

A Google search will produce an array of intermittent articles all written from a White perspective about talking to White children about racism. Each of the articles advise parents to start early with age-appropriate dialogue. The articles also urge parents to help children avoid following the social cues they have already picked up on by the age of three. They say to reinforce the idea that beauty and positivity come in all shades of color, not just White.

Obviously, these articles are both nice and necessary. But based on the afore-mentioned Buzzfeed article alone, these articles aren’t happening often enough. Plus, Black families are still put in the impossible position of explaining to their children that they should indeed be Black and proud but their Blackness could still be a liability in this here ‘Murica.

Three years ago, during the cultivation of the Black Lives Matter movement, Atlanta Black Star released this article discussing eight specific ways to discuss racism with Black children. The advice is still relevant and helpful—don’t avoid the discussion, be honest, embrace teachable moments, relate personal experiences and reinforce self-pride—but is it enough in the face of rhetoric and violence emboldened by Donald Trump’s presidential victory?

As the parent of two sons under the age of two, I am open to any and every bit of advice I can get that doesn’t end in harm to my family, or my husband or I ending up in jail. And I’m counting on our community to come together, as we’ve done before, to empower, protect and guide ourselves and our families through these trying times. One final question is can and will we unite, despite age, income or location, to combat the new Jim Crow?

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Nikki Igbo is an Atlanta-based freelance writer and political junkie. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Political Science from California State University at Fullerton and a Masters in Fine Arts of Writing at Savannah College of Art and Design. When not staring in disbelief at the antics unfolding on CSPAN, she enjoys philosophical arguments with her husband, 70's era music and any excuse to craft with glitter. Feel free to check out her freelance services at nikigbo.com and stalk her on twitter @nikigbo or Instagram at @nikigbo.

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