a year ago
I wasn't raised to have autonomy over my own body.
I was raised in the most traditional sense; I was to be seen and not heard. Adults were always right even if they were blatantly wrong. Growing up, there were a few male relatives who liked to hug and hold me a little too close and for a little too long. It was always done in front of my parents, as if that made it okay, but I felt uneasy about it.
I never felt I could push these relatives away when they draped their arms around my waist or pulled me onto their laps. As soon as I could, I broke free but it was never soon enough.
Creating distance with strangers was always clear, however boundaries between a young girl and her male relatives was something we never discussed.
During one trip to Haiti, one male cousin was very friendly. Too friendly. He used every opportunity to hold or touch me and my mother was always in the vicinity. No one saw or seemed to acknowledge the inappropriateness I felt. I started to believe it was I who making his advances more than they were.
I am raising a little black boy in a world that hates and fears black boys as soon as they can walk.
I cannot control the actions of people in authority, I cannot control the laws that fail to protect us time and time again, but I can play a part in the way he views himself.
And one way is to at least give him control over his own body.
It's considered cute when babies push strangers away and snuggle closer into their parents. However, when an older child does it, it's rude and a negative reflection of their upbringing. No one stops to consider why these children are fearful of strangers.
Stranger danger is a real thing and sometimes those strangers are family members.
I am going to teach my son to speak up when he feels uncomfortable, because once you lose autonomy of your own body, it is a slippery slope to losing everything.