Updated: Sep 4, 2020
PHOTO CREDIT AISHWARYA KRISHNAMOORTHY/RENO PUBLIC RADIO
Our reason for being from inception was to affirm African children. To teach children to love who they are and how God made them to be. To reflect on Steve Biko's words “It (black consciousness) is a manifestation of a new realization that by seeking to run away from themselves and to emulate the white man, blacks are insulting the intelligence of whoever created them black. Black consciousness therefore takes cognisance of the deliberateness of God's plan in creating black people black."
The work by Toys with Roots is largely underpinned by black consciousness. We believe that our children need to identify with as well as see themselves and their greatness in the songs they sing, books they read, toys they engage with and media they consume. It is through Play that they can best learn and form these important concepts about themselves and their world. But what does it mean to be proudly black when that simple truth can be reason enough to be brutally and senselessly killed as in the case of George Floyd, 12 year old Tamir Rice, 15 year old Matlhomola Mosweu and many others. How can we as Toys with Roots advocate for our children to walk tall and proud when it would seem safer to take cover?!
The world wants to suffocate who our African children are. It continues to place its knee on their necks to remind them that they belong on the ground. If they stay down they are safe but if they rise up they will be forced into their position and be executed.
Our mission is STILL to teach them to live with their heads held high. To instill a pride within themselves so that they can live out loud despite the potential consequences. We believe the solutions that are needed in the world today lie in our children discovering that their design is for a purpose and on purpose. If they embrace this, they can manifest that which is dormant inside of them.
And in truth, that is what the world is afraid of - The power within African children! Thus they want to suffocate it out of them.
We need to teach our children and remind ourselves of the words of Steve Biko: “I’m going to be me as I am, and you can beat me or jail me or even kill me, but I’m not going to be what you want me to be.”
The song "Under your skin" by Lesego Lebese has helped me think through what I struggle to put into words. I hope it helps you too...