Angel's blog: Smelling the Roses

Lockdown has been an experience to remember. As it threw people out of their usual routine, I’ve been able to notice a number of interesting and positive changes. In eight years of living in my area, there has been one nearby park that has always been deserted. So deserted in fact that if the council sold it to property developers I would find it hard to put up a protest. But recently the park has been bustling with people and families enjoying the sun together. The fast routine of life seems to have been forgotten and people were taking time to reconnect with themselves and their families. The packed fast train into the city had been replaced by a leisurely cycle round the block with children or partners.

Things seem to be changing - we’re buying less clothes, cooking more food, and riding more bikes. This pause on life has given many parents time to think about something other than how to make it home, feed the kids, feed themselves and then go to bed to do it all again tomorrow. And we can feel more - more appreciation for key workers, our families and friends, and more empathy for communities that have been hit by Covid-19 and more about what is important in our lives. One of the things I’ve seen parents asking in the light of George Floyd’s death, is how can they make sure that their children don’t grow up with negative stereotypes of other races and treat people fairly? 

As a black mother of two boys I have always worried about what the world will be like for them as they grew. I was born here and I’ve faced racial discrimination and so has my husband and most black people I know.  I always wondered how I would explain that to my boys and what racism is? Would I tell them people don't even get job interviews based on their surnames? How can I tell them that I never ever want them to visit a place where simply the colour of their skin can make them a target for police? I realised these would be very sad and difficult conversations but the world’s reactions to the recent events have given me hope that perhaps things might change. 

George Floyd’s death hurt my heart.  Every black mother would have seen their son under that knee and when he cried out for his own mother I cried so hard. It’s not the first, there have been so many others I have lost count. However the reaction has been new. Everyone is talking about how to help, even Cbeebies put out some tips to help parents discuss racism with their children. At the protest marches demanding justice for George, I saw every race, colour and gender there. I saw statements from celebrities, politicians and even Ikea had #blacklivesmatter on their website. At work our leaders gave an amazing and supportive statement and I felt so heartened and proud to work where I do. I don’t know where it will all lead but I hope it brings us to a better place. 

Right now, thankfully my sons don’t know anything about this incident. Their hardships are not seeing their friends, not being able to go to swimming and play on the slide in the park.  They have had some positive experiences as well. I was in the garden with my eldest son the other day and a little Robin hopped down just in front of him. We sat and watched the Robin collect some dry grass and fly off. I told my boy that he was collecting grass for his nest. So my son gathered up some more and put it on one of our garden chairs then came and sat with me to watch.  A few moments later the robin came back and picked it up and flew off. “He took it mum!” he said happily. I told him the Robin would be very grateful so they did this a couple more times, my son would put grass on the chair and the robin would collect it. Then on the last time the robin did something beautiful and strange - instead of hopping over to pile of grass he hopped onto the handlebars of my son’s bike that was on the ground. it watched us and we both sat there very still side by side. Then the robin hopped right over to my son and sat on the arm of the chair he was sitting on, did a little nod and flew off. “He said thank you!’ my son shouted happily. I wholeheartedly agreed.

In this unprecedented time, I am thankful for the opportunity to be mindful of the good and the bad things that go on around us, so I can respond and make a better life for my children.

Angel is an executive assistant in the City and a Mum of two cheeky boys aged 2 and 4. She is currently going through a home extension on top of everything the drills are keeping everything even more lively than they were.

Category: A Citymother's Diary

Deepa Sreenivasan - 10/06/2020 - 10:34

Beautifully written Angel, thank you for sharing your thoughts.  Discrimination on any grounds is an absolute disgrace to humanity - #blacklivesmatter. The positive connection that you helped your son make with that little Robin will surely lead him with the conviction that all lives matter. Take care! 

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