As brown mamas we often underestimate our value and impact in our communities. In my humble opinion, it’s the small things a family commits to on a daily basis that can have the biggest impact on warding off tragedy and violence in our communities. One thing my father is always happy to point out to me is why not much known violence occurs in affluent neighborhoods. Think about it. When you ride through a residential area in a wealthy neighborhood nothing looks out of place. The shrubs maintain their perfect boxed shapes, the children are riding rust-free bikes that fit their size and stature, and each mailbox looks as if it was placed on the edge of the lawn by the Creator. Those neighborhoods have a certain “I wish you wouldness” about them. (if that’s a word..lol) When you ride through those communities mamas, we usually drive slower, are extra careful to watch for pedestrians and admire the beauty of their lawns.
Again, in my humble opinion our brown neighborhoods could use a little of that passive intimidation. It wouldn’t solve everything, but keeping our communities neat and clean could go a long way in keeping them safe as well. Mamas, we can take back our neighborhoods and exert our power by taking some small steps toward showing outsiders how important our communities are to us. Here are 4 Ways to End Community Violence Moms-Style.
1. Create a Garden, or Just Plant a Flower
So, let’s talk about those manicured lawns. If an entire block got together and decided to plant petunias and keep their lawns mowed, it would completely change the way not only outsiders, but more importantly the neighbors themselves, thought about their block. It does something to our souls when we see a “nice” neighborhood. It gives us a sense of pride and commitment to our neighbors. In addition, our kids see us planting flowers and learn the importance of community. Now when people, police included, ride through our neighborhood they see the people on this block are committed to keeping their community clean and safe.
2. Bring Back Sunday Dinners
The movie “Soul Food” was a hit for a reason. Family dinner has been the foundation for family structure in the Black community pretty much since the beginning of time. So it only makes sense that these interactions act as a buffer to community breakdown. When you have family dinner, even if it’s just your immediate family, you can learn what kid in the family is experience difficulty with peer pressure or whose having trouble in their marriage. We have to begin to understand that having an aunt whose always in somebody’s business, is not so much about being nosy as it is about warding off predatory behaviors and situations that crack the family structure. We have to begin to watch each other’s backs and Sunday dinner is the best place to start.
3. Know Where Your Kids are at All Times
It’s time for street light roll call again ya’ll. You remember, when ya mom said be home by the time the street light comes on, that was no joke. I suggest even doing a mid-day call-in and a street light roll call. Brown babies everywhere are under attack. It’s time for dads to step-up and become the protectors they promised they would be. Your son, or daughter shouldn’t be able to take a shower without a parental figure knowing their whereabouts. In the words of my mother: “You ain’t got no business.” If you’re kid is around the age where they are spending time with friends outside of the home, they need to a check-in routine. Period.
4. Upgrade Your Home
Luther Vandross probably said it best: “A House is not a Home.” In other words mamas, make your house into a home. What do you have around your house that says you live here. Have you painted a wall or hung a picture? Or, placed a book you like to read in a space where your children will regularly see it? Make sure you’re kids feel like hugs and kisses when they walk into your home. We have to begin to pass on to our children that our communities are not places to be taken for granted, and that starts in your four walls. Give a room an upgrade, give your home a heart.
One of the most important things to remember when responding to community violence is that a predator always chooses the weakest prey as his dinner.
Unfortunately, in the Black community we have become increasingly unguarded prey (to outsiders, as well as to predators in our community). It’s time for us to begin fortifying our walls, but we must begin within. Gardening, family dinners, being accountable for your child’s whereabouts at all times and upgrading your home are all ways to build the blocks of a family standard. By giving our children behavior to model in their homes, you are actually giving them the ability to protect and have authority over our communities.
So mamas, how are you creating a standard in your household? Leave a comment below.