A Journey – From Being the Only Black Student to Being the Only Black Mother

It’s funny how life can sometimes do a complete 180.

You never quite know where you’ll finally end up. You don’t know the many twists and turns life will take you. Something you once thought was in the bag, may not be so secure, after all. Life is funny that way. No matter how much you use your planner, how predictable and mundane your routine is, you can never be too prepared for what life brings at you.

Growing up in a two-parent, upper-middle class family, I was used to being the only black kid. In my neighborhood. In my classes. At slumber parties. I was just used to it. Looking back at it, I never felt uncomfortable. I never felt I was the lone one out. I was just…well, there.

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In high school, I was one out of four black students in AP classes and we all knew each other and we all sat near each other, LOL. You become acutely aware in high school about race and class.

In college, I went to a predominantly white institution. I had a lot of black friends in college, was involved in the Black Student Union, and hung out with those girls regularly. We’re still friends.

I live in L.A., specifically Highland Park where it’s predominantly Latino and has been (long story on how it used to have more black residents but I’ll save that  – as well as my controversial opinion on gentrification – for another post). While more white people have moved into my neighborhood, there aren’t that many black faces. In fact, one of my black neighbors just moved out and although I’m happy she’s found a new place, I’m low-key upset she’s gone.

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That brings me to today’s topic – being the lone black parent.

I noticed it when Maks and I went to childbirth classes when I was pregnant with Bear. I was the only expectant black mother. When I told my mother this, she said she had the same experience when she was pregnant with me.

Bear goes to preschool and it’s pretty diverse. There are kids from many different backgrounds and cultures. One of Bear’s best friends is a Muslim boy named Tee (protecting his full name for privacy).

And while I’m not the lone black parent at the school, I am the lone black mother there.

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It’s something I knew from the jump so it’s not a surprise. There are other biracial children there so it’s not like Bear is the only one. As I participate in preschool activities with my son and accept invites to play dates and birthday parties, I become acutely aware of my status.

I don’t act any different when I’m around the teachers or anyone else. Several of the parents know I run a blog and *hopefully* they can attest I’m pretty much the same way on here as I am IRL.

My status is also rare – I’m a working at-home mother so I’m able to free up time to go to Bear’s preschool and do all sorts of activities. Even when I go out with Bear during the weekdays, I still get questions about what is it that I do (and it’s usually questions by my skinfolk).

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Now, I need to make this absolutely clear  – no parent has made me feel uncomfortable nor has there been any shading or passive-aggressiveness of any kind. If anything, I’ve received a lot of love. We all share the same ideals and values, no matter what our backgrounds or social-economic statuses are.

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Bear at his classmate’s birthday party over the weekend. He got to meet a stormtrooper in person!

It’s one of those things where as a parent and an adult, you notice it a bit more. You want your children to grow up in the best possible conditions and environment but you also want to expose them to as much diversity as possible. And sometimes, that means you’ll be the only black parent in the room.

I’m reminded of my mother. She was a nurse and was able to have a flexible schedule so she can attend my games, meets, and whatever else I had going on. And as I remember high school days, it dawned on me that my mother was also sometimes, the lone black parent at the PTA meetings, at the games, and at the meets. She handled it with pride and dignity.

I hope in the future things might change a little bit and I’ll see other mothers who look a bit more like me when I go events at school. But for now, the priority is to make sure Bear feels safe, happy, and loved no matter where he goes.

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