lifestyle

Black women write love letters to Black children in response to the trauma of racism


The letters are a cathartic way for Black women to share fears and process trauma (Picture: DEAR NOAH/Ashley Armitage Imani)

In 2020, Black women feared for Black children, so they wrote love letters to them to help them process the trauma of witnessing and experiencing racism.

DEAR NOAH is a curated collection of letters written by Black Women to to illustrate what the last two years mean to them, the civil right movements, Black Lives Matter, and what it means to be Black during the pandemic.

Curator of the project Anne-Claire Ahouangonou, said it was a soothing and necessary experience to discuss fears for the future with other Black women.

‘These women were afraid and depleted,’ Anne-Claire tells Metro.co.uk.

‘All of them were scared for Black children. How can we raise Black children in this world? A large majority of them did not even have children. Some of them did not want children. And yet, they still felt anxious for Black children. How could you find peace in turmoil?’

Anne-Claire intended the letters to be like a journal – a way in which Black Women can process trauma and their emotions.

She also wanted the letter to be an education tool for Black children to feel seen, represented and less scared.

‘I felt that, as a community, we had a duty to remember this time, and a duty to document this time,’ she says. ‘Were we going to be spoken about in history books? Were we going to be a fleeting moment or a defining movement? And again, what would we say to the children?’

Anne-Claire was inspired to create something positive after reading heartbreaking testimonies from Black children in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.

She remembers seeing a post on Instagram where a mother said her seven-year-old son asked her, ‘but why do they hate Black people?’

‘A few days later, in The New York Times, a story told by the mother of an 8-year-old Black boy really pained me. As he was going into the elevator with his face mask on, a lady who had gotten on before him clutched her handbag nervously. The young boy asked his mother, “how am I supposed to protect myself by using a face mask if by doing so people are getting scared of me?”‘ recalls Anne-Claire.

”Above all, it is critical that Black children in the UK feel supported and empowered’ (Picture: DEAR NOAH/Tina Tona)

‘I wanted to give him a massive hug. I wished I could have reassured him that he is seen, loved and safe, that he should not be scared even though he has all the reasons to be.’

Anne-Claire says the DEAR NOAH project is a creative time capsule, a cathartic record of our time, and a poignant love gesture to the next generation. The project is a collection of 40 love letters, as well as artwork created during the pandemic.

‘I send these love letters out to the world to help us heal and process what is happening right now,’ says Anne-Claire. ‘It’s a heartfelt wave that I hope will bring us all a lot closer.’

Anne-Claire says that other people’s expectations of them are one of the biggest fears Black Women have to live with today.

‘Black Women are “adultified” from a very young age and with it are expected to behave a certain way,’ she says. ‘Here comes the harmful stereotype of the angry and strong Black Woman – expected not to be too loud or expected to be strong, denying spaces for vulnerability for Black Women.

‘Black Women who want to become mothers are also deeply anxious about the risks linked with childbirth – Black women are still five times more likely to die in pregnancy, childbirth or in the postpartum period, compared to their white counterparts.

‘This fear is followed by a next one: the fear of putting a Black child into the world. Many women participating in DEAR NOAH mentioned it, fearing that their unborn children live through the same type of discrimination they experienced.’

When it comes to the messages that Black children in the UK need to hear, Anne-Claire wants to empower and support them.

‘Black children are confronted with racism early on,’ she says. ‘It is important that Black children’s caretakers do not shy away from conversations about race and racism with children, as they have most likely already encountered the issue.

‘Ignoring the topic can leave them exposed to bias, which in turn can impact their long-term development and wellbeing.

‘Above all, it is critical that Black children in the UK feel supported and empowered – building their sense of worth, confidence and self-esteem from a very young age starting with words of appreciation within family circles. They need to hear that they are worthy of love and opportunities.’

Extracts from the DEAR NOAH love letters

Dear Hugo, Dear Noah 

Find what brings you joy, and hold on to the happiness inside. How you feel inside, will shape the world around you. Throughout this year, I have tried to find and keep my joy, in everything.

In the midst of the bleakest news, I have celebrated personal wins. Joy and happiness are what have made me put one foot in front of the other this year. Happiness to see both of you growing up so fast and beautifully, happiness for the life we are creating together as a family, happiness when working towards a goal close to my heart, with people I love and admire.

Every time I see a heartbreaking news headline, I am grateful for every little thing I have been able to push forward.  

Arlette Ngo Badjeck, Tunis, Tunisia

Dear Luzolo

The movement we’re witnessing this year has taken on an unprecedented scale. The whole world has taken to the streets, measures taken to limit the power of the police, and statues toppled.

I’d be the happiest of all mothers if these changes led to the end of black murders. While I am not so sure of that, I wanted – through this letter – to give you the best possible tools to not just survive, but live as true to yourself as possible even while living through times of distress like we are today.

Whatever the future holds, be sure of one thing: I will always do everything to protect you and my love for you is guaranteed for life.

Abeba Ngwe, Paris, France 

‘I wanted to give you the best possible tools to not just survive, but live as true to yourself as possible’ (Picture: DEAR NOAH/Jeppe Monster)

Dear Salem, Paige

My heart aches for the day that we – us three and your father – will laugh at the hard moments that we felt would never pass and discuss how they made you resilient people. We have so much to say about how hard we tried to be the best parents we could be so each of you had the space to be the realest version of you. 

May we fight so hard that the only thing that’s left for y’all to do is live.  

A. Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez, Cheyenne, USA

Dear Little Red Line

(Written in a stream-of-consciousness style)

I also want you to have freedom and be empowered and an independent intelligent free thinker who can stand up for yourselves and others who are politically active and have instilled social responsibility I want you to feel like you could do anything you want to but we’ll have to make sure you’re not a Tory what would I do if I inadvertently somehow managed to raise a Tory how do I create a comfortable income for us without neglecting our working class Yorkshire roots how will we even survive when as a household of colour we’re 46% likely to live in poverty how do I do that whilst ensuring you are infused with the most eclectic appreciation for your Caribbean heritage how do I do that when I myself are disconnected from my Caribbean heritage should I reach out to the family I don’t know how do I ensure that your Blackness defines you in the most celebratory way.

Evie Muir, Sheffield, UK

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing MetroLifestyleTeam@Metro.co.uk.


MORE : Simone Biles quitting sends message to Black women: ‘You do not need permission to prioritise yourself’


MORE : ‘The only Black face at the start line’: Meet the Black trail runners fighting for diversity


MORE : Toddler makes incredible recovery from newborn eczema after mum ditches steroid creams





READ SOURCE

See also  Keep sneezing? There might be dust mites hiding out in your bed

Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.  Learn more