To the Black Dad in the Mirror Looking Back at Me
As I write this, it is Black History Month 2022. As I looked in the mirror this morning, I felt plagued by the fullness in my body holding the conscious awareness of my own trauma and racial issues as an autistic, biracial Black transman and what this means for me as a dad raising a daughter who is Black and biracial.
Prior to this year, I interacted with Black History Month through disconnecting and dissociating because of the anger and pain it brought up for me. I often found myself triggered and thrown into memories of the house I grew up in full of trauma, colorism, and high racial tensions which mixed with being bullied due to my race and disabilities across my childhood and young adulthood.
Being a dad has challenged me over the past year to look inward, to seek support for my dissociation and trauma, and to look at the racial issues I have due to this trauma. I didn’t want to unintentionally pass on my own issues to my daughter. I want to have the skills to be able to help her develop a healthy sense of identity in the wholeness of who she is and who she will develop to be.
But, I wondered, what the hell does this all look like?
How can I, someone who felt like a fraud most of my life and like I was an unworthy mistake, show my daughter authenticity?
How can I, someone who was told and shown repeatedly by family and the community that I was not a real part of the Black community, show my daughter that “all shades of Black are beautiful”?
How can I, someone who spent my late teens and 20s cycling through psychiatric wards and trauma units dealing with anxiety, addiction, mental illness, suicide attempts, and dissociation struggling to grasp onto anything to hold on to and desperately seeking help — show my daughter stability, writing one’s own story, and being proud of who you are and how far you’ve come?
My past is a part of my story. I acknowledge that and I feel it living in my bones. I know as a trauma survivor and from the trauma work that I have done over the years that my past does not have to define me or my future. It is a part of who I am and it does impact who I am today, yesterday, and tomorrow. I am living through my trauma. I am a husband through my trauma. I am learning how to parent through my trauma. I am learning how to do every aspect of life through my trauma.
So, I keep coming back to the question that circles daily in my mind: How can I be the best dad I can be in all of my Black, biracial, autistic, trans, disabled beauty?
I can honor who I am. I can honor my story. I can continue to write and live out my story. I can do the best I can. I can continue to seek help and support. I can be present. I can celebrate all of who I am. I can strive to be my best, authentic self. I can love. I can hope. I can use my voice. I can be there every step of the way to make sure she feels she has the space, the tools, the safety, and the support to grow into and be her amazing self — celebrating all of who she is.
Together we can forge a new path on what it means to each of us to celebrate Black History Month, and to celebrate what it means to each of us to be Black.
Getty image by Maskot.