Y’all need to understand how DANGEROUS it is for us to allow our kids out the house even looking a LITTLE ashy/raggedy/disheveled/unkempt. It means that The People will come and take your kids from you. It means that some teacher or social worker at the school will assume that your home is a dangerous place and call DCFS on you.
Even if your kid has done nothing but played hard on the playground before class. Even if you have to leave CRAZY early for work (or not get in from your night job until the kids are gone) and don’t have time to do a Body/Wardrobe check before they leave for school.
Our kids can’t have shoes that are too small or pants that too short or skirts with a loose hem. That could mean you will lose your kids if some person of the System decides that what they thought about your Black Mothering (oh, that is ALWAYS called into question) is true.
This is why we scrub our children almost raw in the tub, comb and brush and hot comb our girls’ hair into reluctant submission and shop for clothes sometimes in lieu of paying the electric bill. This is why we slather our babies down with Vaseline because shiny= healthy and clean (slavery imprinted that on us).
Mothering While Black is living in constant fear and under constant judgment.
But…BUT: We’ve been trusted with White babies since we got here.
I remember being in the store once with kid #1 & he had chalk dust all over him (as they do when they are tiny), and some woman making a really nasty comment about “those people” that ended with her talking about someone should do something. Mind you, this was sidewalk chalk dust. What child with blue & pink stains on his otherwise clean shirt is endangered? Then again, when he was in 4th grade some woman tried to tell me I was too mean to him because I told him that if he forgot his gym shoes again he’d have to take the lost points. The minutiae of life is an excuse to police our parenting & people who think we’re overreacting should go look up some stats on which kids are taken into custody & how long they stay there vs which families are offered services & how long those services are accessible.