Thank you for sharing your story and thank you for inquiring about how to raise a strong young woman of color.
I was raised not to fear anything or anyone. I was taught by my parents and teachers (I had lots of strong Black female role models) that I had to be twice as smart and work twice as hard. That was drilled into me. I knew I had to work. Nothing was going to be easy for me. I was also taught I had to compete with White and Black men for pretty much everything in this world.
There was no victim language used in any life lessons given to me. I was raised to have a fighting mentality, and I was raised to fight. No boogie men, no stranger danger, no scary movie dramatics.
I was also taught not to mistreat people because you never know who you’re going to need help from. We all need help, and help comes in all shapes, colors, types, and sizes.
I was exposed to all types of people, I had all types of interests (even some that weren’t typical of African American interests) which exposed me to so many different people and experiences.
I recommend seeking out non-White experiences to cultivate opportunities to socialize with people of color. Like going to the public library in the Black parts of town for book readings and events. Visit cultural festival. Exposure to different types of music and concerts brings us together. Sports, dance, I mean there are so many opportunities to be exposed to other people who are different at an early age. The exposure creates comfort and gets rid of fear. Mind you, there are racist people in all groups, so you’ll always have to prepare your baby for that.
Sometimes kids can be cruel and territorial, but I believe if you forge on you definitely can change minds and hearts. My partner’s kids are Black and Haitian and they go to school with mostly White, Hispanic, and biracial kids. White kids are always inviting them to their homes. They don’t ask to come to ours. It’s very weird. They extend invites but the White children always seem to have excuses (especially the white girls). The kids are starting to gravitate towards non-White kids because they are feeling that inferiority that comes from upper-middle class White folks who really don’t want to be bothered with Blackness. They are learning first-hand about Whiteness.
Raise your child to be afraid of no one or nothing. Raise her to be wise and make good choices. Teach her to trust people until they give her a reason not to. Teach her about racism. Real life racism, microaggressions, and the likes. Let her see you practice what you preach. Do you have Black friends or friends of other ethnic groups? Do you invite them to your house? Do you visit their homes? Lead by example.
You can’t tell her not to be afraid, then demonstrate otherwise. Optics matter, especially with young children.
Teach her to see beyond superficial appearances, and to trust her gut. Teach her everyone has value. Teach her not to fear people who are different. Teach her real American history, the ugly truths so she’ll understand why we are the way we are. Teach her to embrace diversity in all things (food, music, friends, clothing, hairstyles, community). Teach her about Whiteness and help her understand it’s a way, not THE ONLY way. Most importantly to her to love humanity.
You’ll screw up sometimes, we all do, but it’s okay. Practice makes perfect. She will remember the lessons and experiences you provided and thank you for them when she’s about 30 lol. The exposure will make her a well-rounded individual and a pleasure to be around.
I hope you’ll share your experiences with us. Best wishes.