If you think this magazine is racist, you might just be a racist. Successful Black Parenting has been getting a few comments on social media from non-Black people asking the question, is this magazine racist? It’s time to talk about it.
When we started this magazine in the '90s, this question rarely came up, but it seems the United States presidential election, specifically Trump’s rhetoric, is heightening racial tensions in America. There are people in Trump’s camp who wish Black people would just “go back to Africa” or silently disappear into the folds of America. Well, we’re not going to do that. Too many of us have been silent for too long.
Successful Black Parenting was started because mainstream parenting magazines rarely address issues related to Black families, from hair care-to-health care. Black children are barely ever represented in mainstream parenting magazines. You might find a photo here or there and a magazine cover every now and then, but our culture is rarely if ever touched upon.
My business partner, Marta Sánchez and I knew this was true from the very start, when we did our research. “We looked at several national parenting magazines,” said Sánchez. “And in a very prominent one, we went through 60 of their issues. Of the 60 issues, only one cover featured a mixed-race child. That was in 1993, and not much has changed today.” Sánchez adds, “We wanted to see an African American toddler cruising around the coffee table see himself reflected in the pages of our magazine.”
That’s why we started it, and this is why we’re relaunching Successful Black Parenting today. To foster a positive racial identity, children have to see positive images of themselves in various media while growing up. We’ve all heard the arguments of why it’s important for young girls to see positive body images of themselves in the media; it’s the same for young Black children. They too need to see positive images of themselves on television and film, in books and in magazines.
“Without a doubt, the popular media affect children’s perceptions not only of others, but of themselves” (Scholastic.com). News media bombard our children with negative propaganda and sensationalism that criminalizes the Black male, all for ratings, while brainwashing the public that Black people are the main cause of society’s problems. And children believe what they see as themselves in the media. Lake Sosin Snell Perry and Associates and Motivational Educational Entertainment (MEE) for Children Now found in their study that, “Research demonstrates that children get messages about their race by seeing how and how often its members are portrayed in the media.”
This magazine is for the community, and we need the community’s support in relaunching it as well. We want to know that Black families and those who care about Black families have our back. Our crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo has raised over $1k but we still have far to go. The goal is to crowdfund $20k in 30 days and the clock is quickly counting down for this campaign to create a parenting magazine specifically for the Black family. Go to Indiegogo to find out more about the Successful Black Parenting relaunch and crowdfunding campaign.
Some people ask, why can’t we have one magazine for all parents? Isn’t it racist and a form of separatism to publish a parenting magazine for Black people? No, it's definitely not. One magazine for all cultures is not acceptable and here’s why:
It fosters assimilation. We are different and that’s okay. You can’t change that. My hair will be different from yours, my upbringing down to the food I eat are all different. Biodiversity teaches us diversity is necessary for survival. Cultural diversity teaches us diversity is what makes us collectively great.
Diverse publications stimulate the economy. There are already magazines on the market for Black people in various genres that have been published successfully for decades. Ebony, Essence and Black Enterprise magazines are still on the market today with healthy advertising revenue, a large subscriber base, and faithful followers. Many Fortune 500 brands that consumers cherish advertise in these magazines, because our business increases their business’ profits. The African-American community alone has $1 trillion in buying power and that is very attractive to advertisers (Nielsen).
Diverse media gives a voice to diverse communities. Mainstream magazines don’t cover topics through a cultural lens and that’s fine. They are generic and are for everyone. Targeted or niche media speak directly to distinct communities.
There are magazines for different communities. There are already magazines on the market for multicultural, Latino, Japanese parents and more. In addition, there are separate magazines for men and women because we have different issues specific to each gender, and we like it that way. The Black family experiences the world in ways that are similar but also different from the mainstream. It has issues that are specific to our race, like having to explain to our children how to mitigate authority without getting arrested or killed. We realize there are differences between sewing and knitting, and they each get their own media. There are differences between southerners and northerners and that's okay, too. Remember, Hitler wanted everyone to be the same, with blond hair, fair skin and blue eyes.
Business, services organizations, worship groups and politicians want to reach niche groups of people. They know the value of having venues that reach unique niches, like Successful Black Parenting. Producing a magazine for every world culture is not feasible. There are too many cultures in the world. If people can’t relate to the publication, they won’t buy it. We can’t have just one magazine for all of humanity.
We write from our expertise in support of the Black family and learn from the Successful Black Parenting community. Successful Black Parenting staff are experts in early childhood education and in Black Parenting, not in world cultures or mainstream culture.
We love to celebrate culture. It’s okay to be different. What’s not okay is to not treat someone different as an equal.
We are not takers. Because we are supporting Black families doesn’t mean we are taking anything away from any other group nor do we think we are better than any other group.
Saying we’re divisive or separatist starts a bad precedent. With this argument we would have to abolish St. Patrick’s Day, which is not just a Catholic holiday but an Irish one as well, all because it separates the Irish and the Catholics from the rest of us. Instead we celebrate it, participate in it, learn from it and like it. We would have to consider getting rid of most league sports, because they’re all separated by gender. We’d have to get rid of entire genres of music and eliminate ethnic restaurants. Why can’t we celebrate differences in other cultures, like the Black culture, just the same?
This magazine is not only available to Black people. Anyone can purchase it. Many of our subscribers were White doctors and practitioners who worked with Black families. Any person of any race, religion or creed is always welcomed to buy the magazine, contribute to the campaign or subscribe at SuccessfulBlackParenting.com. Have an open mind and you will learn some new things that you probably don’t know about Black culture.
Black families have challenges that are unique to them. If this wasn’t the case, we wouldn’t be able to regularly fill-up pages of a magazine and a website with relatable positive editorial.
Oppressing Black people by keeping them from talking and writing about their culture or celebrating it, is the epitome of racism. Let me tell you why: It's reminiscent of what was done to Africans who were brought to America as slaves. They were cruelly punished, their backs ripped open for talking about their culture, celebrating, and God forbid, reading or writing about it – which was punishable by death. Therefore, we systematically lost our African heritage.
Today, we want to celebrate our Black culture and some non-Black people want us not to protect it, to shut up about it, not celebrate it, and not write about it. History is repeating itself here. And if you’re saying, why did you bring your history into this? It’s because as African Americans we live with this past every single day. We are not allowed to forget it and nor do we want to. Slavery wasn’t that long ago, although some people would like us to believe the African diaspora happened in Biblical times.
My great grandmother was born to people who were enslaved in America. They weren’t even told that slavery had ended. I knew her and she knew me. I don’t think she would want me to ever forget what she or her parents went through.
This publication is positive and uplifting for the Black community and we want to see it have a place, not only in doctors’ offices but in the home of every Black family internationally and anyone who wants to learn about our culture. To learn more about Successful Black Parenting or to contribute to the crowdfunding campaign, go to the website at SuccessfulBlackParenting.com.