Since discovering the Black Girl Nerds community, I have learned that many of us have the same story. Growing up, my interests differed from other girls in the Southern, all-Black neighborhood where I grew up. I liked science, rock music and ’80s movies. I read “Sweet Valley High” books and watched professional wrestling. I felt different. As I got older, I lived with a deep sense of not belonging. In my “advanced” and AP classes, sometimes I was “the only” Black girl, which carries its own weight. All in all, I didn’t know where I fit or if I fit anywhere. But I survived those difficult years.
I am a parent now, and I often think about my parenting style. I wonder if I am creating a space where my little one can thrive and grow into the girl she really is — nerd or not. As I pondered this, it became really clear that she will have a fundamentally different childhood than I had. Some of the reasons are a result of more resources; others are differences in my own views on parenting that differ from my family of origin.
There are many ways that my daughter’s experiences and mine are different, but here are six ways our childhoods are worlds apart:
Access to Technology
When I think back to my own childhood, I used my first computer in sixth grade. It was an Apple with a black screen and green typeset. I didn’t even own my first computer until graduate school. The fact that I can get online at any time is mind-boggling. Now, my little one will grow up surrounded by technology in our home, which will positively influence her learning experience.
Diverse TV Programming
I limit TV options to diverse characters whenever possible. Options for kids are more diverse than those from my childhood, although there is significant room for improvement. In our home, we like Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse and Dora the Explorer. These are good characters, but I believe my childhood favorites were more interesting, more engaging. I watched “The Smurfs,” “Thundercats,” “Hall of Justice,” “GI Joe” and “Jem and the Holograms.” Almost no diversity, but I remember being intrigued by the characters.