When I asked my daughter to write what it was like having African born parents, she did ask me if I wanted her to write about me as a mother personally or as an African parent apparently they are two different things!
Everything you see below is not mine and has not been edited at all. It is mostly about the work ethic instilled to my daughter from African parents from her perspective. She was not given a lead but this is what came out. She promises to write more about her perspective on friendship, food etc from being a child from African parents if I want more ‘help’ from her getting a post in! Or ask her about a particular perspective and she will write about it………
Ida asked for her friends to write about being children of African parents in the Diaspora but when you see what an eclectic mix of friends she has you will understand why this was not possible!
GCSEs are coming up and they seem to be the subject of conversation in my year. A lot of the girls are talking about how they would be happy with As and a handful of A*s. One of my friends was even talking about how they would be grateful just to scrape a B in Chemistry. Not me though. I am aiming for A*s only, and I think I have been aiming for them ever since my mum first talked to me about GCSEs ( by age 10 I already had a list of the subjects I was taking!)While a few of my friends might think that it is ridiculous to strive this high, it is the norm for me because my mum has continuously told me how, being from an African background, I must be the best at whatever I do and not settle for mediocre. I remember when I was younger, my mum would come home and tell me how her bosses would have nothing but praise for her in meetings but she would never get the huge promotion she deserved. She would tell me that to be successful in life, I would have to work a million times harder than any white person to even be considered as good as them. She would tell me this at any relevant opportunity and even though I would get tired of hearing the same things over, I look back now and I realise how much this helped me. I honestly do not think that I would be in the school I am in now if my mum had not made sure I understood how hard I need to work in everything I do.
And it is not just my mum who says these things. Almost two years back I remember hearing a speech Barack Obama made when he was campaigning. One of the things he said was “Always strive for the best. Even if you are a cleaner, make sure that you are the best cleaner you can be.” I thought to myself “Has Mummy been giving Barack Obama tips on what to say in his speeches because I am sure I heard her say the same thing to me last week!” Even Chris Rock said a similar thing in one of his comedy shows (I have heard).
I believe that having African parents has kept me well disciplined as a teenager. My mum, having moved to England age 16 and been through a lot more than I can imagine, fails to sympathise with the whole teenage angst problem that seems to be circulating. She has no time with it and I never feel the need to throw a “teen tantrum”. When I cannot do something there is always a reason and I am always told why. No problem. Sometimes my mum and I laugh if we see a tantrum being thrown on Supernanny or we just say, “Send them to an African parent for a week and see!” I have been taught to be proud of being black. I have so many oppourtunities in life and I should grab hold of them while I can. So yes, my parents might be a little less lenient than some of the parents of my Non-African friends but, as my mum says, “Move on” because I’m sure I’ll thank them more for it later!