COVID-19: Are Black Children Falling Behind the Social Curve?
Things and people have become really interesting these days. Just take a look around at people on social media posting selfies throughout the day, lingering for a "like" and comment, and having dinner with cell phones in their hands. COVID-19 has a whole different level of interesting that most of us are unaware of today and may not fully grasp until some time in the future. Let me be clear here. This is not a good way for children and, definitely not good for black children. "We" (the true indigenous people of this and every land) are a communal people by nature but have been acculturated and reduced to introverts not caring about human interaction. This, in itself, conflicts with natural and universal law. I hope there are a few of us who get it and commit to raising the adults of tomorrow who remember what it is like to have real relationships with real people.
As the parent of a beautiful 5 year-old little girl, I am deeply concerned about her social life. She is significantly yearning for friends her age. As much as I have tried to give her that with what has been available to black parents, it has just been a very challenging time for both of us. At times, it feels as though she thinks I am keeping her from the world and other kids. As her mommy, she just wants me to fix it. Well, I am committed to doing just that.
Neema does not watch mainstream television like most children her age, but the clear messages in even the programs she watches are (subtly or blatantly) that of the importance of friendships. Unfortunately, our children are being sold an idea that we cannot deliver on right now due to the current state of affairs in the world. Do you feel that burden as a parent of a beautiful black child? Let's revisit this question later but focus on a few other points for the moment.
Since COVID hit, there has been an unprecedented boom in the number of virtual platforms that offer a myriad of virtual learning and social activities for children ages 0-18. And by boom, I mean BOOM! However, rarely do I see any of the providers on these platforms with brown faces. And rarely do I see brown children partaking in these activities. But why? Here are my personal thoughts.
Reason #1: Reflection
Frankly, I think one of the main issues is, especially during the push of Black Lives Matter, black parents are looking for brown faces but not the painted on ones.
Reason #2: Awareness
In spite of the number of parents on social media (ex: Facebook, Instagram, etc.), there seems to be a lack of awareness of who is offering programming or that such a thing even exists for black children. While there are a plethora of people offering virtual educational and social activities for black children, it is challenging for black parents to sift through all of the websites to find something tailored to their child(ren) and are, therefore, lacking a single source to find this information.
Reason #3: Financial Resources
It is no secret that black people have been hit the hardest by COVID-19. In short, the platforms that offer virtual educational and social activities for children are overpriced which either intentionally or coincidentally alienates black parents who are just trying to get by during these challenging times.
Reason #4: Soul
We are a very soulful people. When we speak to each other, there is a deepness to our interactions that connects our souls. Would you agree? So, when we read a story to our children, our expressions may be different than others. When we do yoga, we are connecting to everything within which then expands to everything around us. And just going through a series of motions is not enough for us or our children. And as it relates to virtual educational and social activities for our precious little ones, there better be an engaging person on the other end of the camera. Otherwise, our bright children will just tune it out, rightfully so, and get absolutely nothing out of it. Even though we are reduced to virtual interactions at the moment, we still want and need meaningful connections for our children. And this is probably where those other platforms fall short for black children.
I could go on and on about the reasons, but the important question to ask is "How do we fix this". I do not have all of the answers but want to do my part. Black children are depending on us to make sure that they are able to form relationships with their peers. True, the who, what, when, where, and how will vary from child-to-child. The Black Excellence Virtual Project was created to empower black parents to...
1) Know exactly where to find virtual educational and social activities specifically tailored to their children
2) Decide what virtual educational and social activities and alignments are best for their child(ren)
Additionally, the "Brown Like Me" Clubhouse was created to provide subject matter experts (ex: teachers/homeschooler, singers, dancers, artists, yoga instructors, life coaches/mentors, etc.) a platform to pass along their knowledge, talents, and gifts to black children.