Wednesday, October 5, 2011

PSA for Black Mothers

On my way home from work, a younger Black woman on the train was struggling with her two little girls. The subways car was slightly crowded and because the able-bodied people around her were assholes, only the older child was able to sit. The mother had to stand and carry the toddler in her arms, while trying her best to maintain her balance. I was appalled. Me and the gentleman sitting next to me offered the lady and her children seats.

The train ride happened fifteen minutes after I found myself in a little bit of a tiff with a parent. The confrontation went as follows:

Mother: Andrew's not with you?
Me: No, along with the other kids who weren't listening are being escorted with the dance teacher.
Mother: He cant be doing no extra time. I'm on a schedule. It's bad enough I have to wait from 5 o' clock.
Me: It's only for a couple of more minutes. And dismissal isn't really until 6.

The exchange happened at 5:48. Visibly annoyed, the mother avoided contact with me until her son was dismissed. It did not bother me much but I was frustrated that she cared more about getting home early than she did about her kid's poor behavior.

I don't have any kids but I know motherhood is tough. Black mothers living in the inner city have it especially hard. I get it. A lot of blame is thrown at parents when discussing the ills of our educational system. I disagree with accusations saying parents are typically lazy but I will say that it is not enough to not adequately participate in their child's education.

It's irresponsible to call out parents' lack of involvement without acknowledging the societal factors that keep them from being more effective. Most black mothers are single parents, many work long hours and some even have to travel a good distance to get to their children's school. And as we have witnessed, its not guaranteed they will be offered a seat. With what they have to endure, black mothers are doing their best.

But that best is not enough if it does not include taking your child's education seriously. Sending them to after school is not enough. Supplying them with uniforms and a book bag is not enough. It is important to be aware of how well they perform too. Behavior may not be featured on standardized tests but it is equally as important as academics. Both are more important than getting home early.

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