If you’ve read even one other of my articles, you know that Personal Power is my jam. I believe it is the FORCE WITHIN each of us! I am constantly looking for ways that I can feel grounded, centered, safe, happy and POWERFUL no matter what is going on around me.
As a parent, it was (and remains) VERY important for me to offer this same ability to my son, Raif.
He’s now, 12 years old, but throughout his life, my husband, Rodney, and I did our best to install in him a love, acceptance, and celebration of himself.
We did this in the same way parents teach our children to talk — we surrounded him with it. Everywhere he looked, everything he heard us discussing was a celebration of his mind, his body, his culture, and his history. In our household, EVERY month is black history month.
Why? Because we knew it would align him with his Personal Power. We knew his roots would give him wings.
Of course, Raif is the grandson of my parents, Berry Gordy and Diana Ross, two people who inspired important social change worldwide,
but there are so many other, less famous, people in his family that are important for him to know about as well.
For instance, his aunt Barbara Ross-Lee (my mother's sister) -- the first black female dean of a medical school and his Grandpa James "Jimmy Jay" Kendrick, an extraordinary artist and many others.
From a young age, we took Raif to art galleries and museums to study his history. This was taken a few years ago at The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.
Additionally, in our home, images of blackness (African art and sculptures) are everywhere and throughout his life, Raif heard stories of great African empires, important cultures of the African diaspora, as well as notable black figures in American and world history (scientists, artists, and freedom fighters etc). No matter what he was learning in school (or later in his homeschool classes), discussion of our history and ancestors was a constant companion.
Of course, Raif has friends (and family members for that matter!) of all cultures, races, and nationalities (and he learns about those too!), but in order for his self-love to really take root, we knew he had to know and love his black culture and history. This is something that we still continue to this day.
Here he is reciting the poem "A Dream Deferred" by Langston Hughes
I believe that we each stand on the shoulders of those who came before us and it’s only by really knowing and trusting the solidity of that “pushing off place” that we can take flight. That’s why I love the Sudanese proverb above about roots and wings. Our roots really do give us wings.
In what ways have your roots given you wings? Are you able to dig even deeper into your history, learn more, stand taller on those who came before you so that you can fly even higher? Let me know about it in the comments below.