podcastRFP NetworkSeason 4

Ep 125: 4 Conditions in Support of Raising Free People

By June 20, 2019 No Comments

Audio Producer

Juan P. Perez


Fatima Mookadam


Marley Richards

This is the question of longtime member of the FOFC community, Chemay Morales-James. She founded the organization My Reflection Matters, a movement to provide personal and educational resources for young Black and Brown people to think critically about themselves and feel empowered to combat racial injustices wherever they are. She asked Akilah to speak to the home environmental conditions that are likely to nurture and support the development of free people, so Akilah does just that, talking about healthy ways to set boundaries, hold accountability, and otherwise practice emotional security and maturity.



What can a home environment look like when the adults practice raising free people?

1. Adults and children who value and honor bodily autonomy

• Body parts are named and explained, and never shamed

• Children know that they do not have to make their bodies touch anyone else’s (through handshakes, hugs, etc.) if they don’t want, and they’re not forced to explain why not

• The adults’ preferred body types (size, shape, weight) aren’t used in ways that shame anyone in the household for what their body does/doesn’t look like

• Conversations about sex and sexuality are discussed often and children are encouraged to ask questions and to listen critically

2. Adults who speak up for children and also encourage them to exercise their right to speak up for themselves• Children aren’t expected to perform for grandparents or other family or social circles

• Adults in that house encourage family and friends to speak to children, instead of asking questions about children to adults in the presence of children

• Adults who default to believing children when they say than an adult has done something uncomfortable to them, even if it was verbally, and seeks to support children in addressing their feelings, even if it means making other adults uncomfortable

3. Children are valued for far more than their future potential

• Education is collaborative, between adult(s) and each child, meaning children’s opinions and preferences help define what they learn and how they spend their days

• Children are told they are important and valuable simply because they are who they are now, and do not have to constantly compete to be the smartest, most charismatic, or most talented in order to be seen or celebrated

• Children are not compared to other children, or to the adults “broken” siblings or ex-whoevers, as a means of getting them to do “productive” things to “secure their future”

4. Conversation and accountability around biases and isms are openly discussed and prioritized

• Everyone in the home accepts that they can experience and perpetuate bias, and know they will be lovingly called out on it

• Language and community for social justice issues, i.e. racism, sexism, homophobia, environmental issues, classism, are constantly being developed. This isn’t a perfect practice, nor is it always enough, but the intention and effort around understanding these issues and not perpetuating them, is a familiar practice at home

• Children are not expected to excuse adults’ biased behaviors, and are not bullied or otherwise intimidated or harmed by adults when they (children) address an adult’s problematic behavior

• Caring for one’s self is a practice everyone in the home is entitled to, and they know it because the adults say that, practice that, and support children in defining/practicing that for themselves. No one is expected to consistently put their needs behind others’ needs; reciprocity, grace, and consideration are named out loud and valued in the home


Chemay’s question in full:

I’ve been facilitating a series of parent workshops in my community on the topic of racial and ethnic identity development.  This conversation is really imbedded in the larger narrative around what it means to raise liberated Black and Brown children. I wanted to make sure families get a fuller picture around the varied types of beliefs, behaviors and parenting practices that support the development of healthy, free people. I want to challenge deeply entrenched and harmful practices and beliefs that have been passed down to us (as a result of oppression and colonization) that we think create, strong, free people but, in reality, often do the opposite. I thought of a few of your episodes to share, but thought it would be super helpful to have a single episode or article to have them listen to for homework in between sessions. I’m so excited you plan to do this and can’t wait to share and use it in my learning sessions!”

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