All of the capitalist countries, with the U.S. in the lead today, are the centers of bourgeoisie thought and action in the world today. So, if you are raising a child anywhere on Earth, particularly in any of these bourgeoisie centers, and you wish to ensure your children have values that contradict the values of the bourgeoisie, there are things you can do to help create those conditions.
Of course, since we are talking about class struggle, there are many people who are perfectly fine with their children being raised to think and act in concert with the bourgeoisie. These are people who support capitalism - either consciously or unconsciously. These folks could have a clear vision that supports the international bourgeoisie vision of controlling the entire planet for the purpose of private profit. We are at war so it would be completely naive to believe there are not people who are totally ok with that vision of domination. We are not talking to those people here because we believe in the concept of cadre development. What that means is unlike the Christian model, in order to be committed to particular class interests, a person doesn't just repent and belong to that class. In order to be a member of the bourgeoisie class a person must have certain positioning within society that comes from generations of service to dominating the planet. In other words, its not a club you can just apply and join. On the other hand, being a revolutionary is much more than a verbal declaration that you are one. It requires a commitment to fighting against the bourgeoisie on a protracted and consistent basis and this is never an easy task. Since the bourgeoisie control all narratives; political, social, cultural, etc., anyone who actively and consciously opposes that vision runs the risk of alienation in these capitalist societies. For examples, throughout my life, every action I've taken to express connection to the African masses, the working masses, the masses of people for peace and justice, has been met with clear signals of risk. My changing my name to an African name (I mean actually changing it, not just using an African name). Joining and organizing for a revolutionary Pan-African political party. Working to organize and carry out my life in a way that is consistent with the revolutionary Pan-African values I believe in, has brought unbelievable strain from family, so-called friends, jobs, state institutions, etc. From being denied jobs to being prohibited from receiving financial aid (because of my refusal to sign up for selective service to be eligible for imperialist military drafts), to being regularly shunned by people I grew up with, including family. And by being shunned I mean being treated like you murdered a family member all because you don't celebrate imperialist holidays, changed your name, have these "strange" beliefs, etc. Standing alone often when you take principled stands at work, etc. All of these things and much, much more have been and continues to be definition of my life.
At the tender age of 25, after having experienced enough of this alienation, and more importantly, enough revolutionary political education (after spending three years in constant ideological training within the work study process of the All African People's Revolutionary Party - A-APRP - at the time), the discussions with my partner at that time centered around the decision that we did want to have one child. We decided on one because we discussed how much we wanted to travel, especially home to Africa and we felt that with one child, we could position ourselves to ensure financially that our child could see the world and grow from that broader perspective. We were also discussing how we could raise our child to have the values that were and are important to us. By values I mean believing in the primacy of Africa e.g. the future of Africa is of the upmost importance regardless of whether we physically live there or not. By values I mean believing that we are not African-Americans. Not Black People. We are Africans and a part of the worldwide African nation which as stated, has Africa at its center. By values we mean believing in principles of socialism - meaning people over profit, and being 100% opposed to capitalism, imperialism, and bourgeoisie values. These are the values we wanted our child to be raised with. One of the most important things we did during these discussions is agree that regardless of what happened, no matter if the two of us split up. No matter if no one supported us in how we raised our child. No matter what, we would never compromise on our commitment to center our child in revolutionary consciousness. Remember that we are talking about the mid 1980s. So, I recall that something that was critically important to me at that time (and still) was that we figure out ways to arm our child with the ammunition they would need to combat the constant efforts to derail them that we had already faced.
The point of all of the above is that despite the fact we were so far from perfect. And, we - I - made an overwhelming number of errors and mistakes in raising our child, we did have a plan that we worked earnestly to carry out. That plan started with choosing two names. Either Shukura or Adisa. Obviously, Shukura won out (and Adisa became a character in my novel series). We planned on natural birth, which unfortunately didn't work out, but we also did something else that turned out to be quite clever. We discussed how if we were going to be successful with our daughter we needed to try and politically educate those around us, meaning our family, to our revolutionary Pan-Africanist, socialist values. So, 32 years ago, when such a thing was never heard of, I, along with my sister in law, organized the baby shower for my child's birth. And, I mean I actually played a major role in organizing the event. We didn't play the normal games you see at baby showers in this bourgeoisie society. We played African history games. It did take a lot to convince the family to go along and participate, but once they did, they enjoyed it and spoke to the value the experience brought them. Plus, the African wedding we had in 1985 did a lot to help prepare people to the reality that we were going to be doing things differently. Our way. Our revolutionary African way. Also, one year after my daughter came, we had to take in one of her (my) nieces for a few years. This act served to illustrate how true we were to our socialist principles to my ex's family and everyone else.
We were "home" schooling before it was a thing. By the time Shukura was three she could see a picture of Assata Shakur, Malcolm X, Kwame Nkrumah, etc., and tell you who they were and something about them. She could tell you the names of several countries in Africa as well as other geography. And, she without question would tell you with extreme confidence that she is an African. Not an African-American. Not Black, but an African who's national home is Africa. At that age she would tell you that America is the home of the Indigenous people of the Western Hemisphere and revolution is the only solution to bring justice to Africa, African people, and the entire planet. All of this was accomplished not just by the lessons everyday in front of the large map of the world on our kitchen wall, but I believe, based on the principled way we tried to carry out our life. We talked constantly to our daughter about respecting the masses and we tried to demonstrate to her how that looks by respecting her, each other, and everyone around us. The core comrades,cadres within the A-APRP played a critical role at this stage of our process. Most of them were also raising children and we did our collective best to attempt to provide the best environments we could for our children. Here in Sacramento at the time that meant watching each other's children and I can tell you I played a prominent role as an African man in spending large amounts of time throughout my twenties with A-APRP and other children. We practiced love, patience, and caring with all of the children all of the time. To me, this was the most effective method of instilling our socialist values. Much better than just talking about it. I believe all of the children felt valued and loved, and the fact I still to this day receive massive love from them when I see them is proof of that to me along with the fact I receive that same love from my ex-in laws, despite the fact my ex-wife and I have been divorced for 26 years. I believe this happens because they saw our efforts to keep our separation as dignified as possible and that Shukura was always a priority during that difficult period.
As Shukura began to grow the daily lessons continued, but shifted, but what was established, even after the divorce, was an atmosphere of openness and respect. Despite being divorced, we still had regular check ins and we split time with Shukura right own the middle. Two weeks/two weeks, for 13 years. All the birthday parties and activities right down to the senior prom were carried collectively with all three of us participating together. This is a point that cannot be overstated. It isn't possible to preach revolutionary love for the people when you struggle to show respect for the person who you had children with. Your children will see right through that and it will cause them to question not you, but the principles you say you believe in. This is of course something that requires much work, but if you make every effort to be sincere to what you profess, that will also show through to your youth. Think about it. What better way to demonstrate love, collectivism, socialism, etc., than to not center yourself, but the collective in everything that you do. If you are consistent with that, your child will learn how to do that also and that will give them a healthy respect for those values.
We continue to have that collective involvement in our child's life 32 years later. All her graduations, move ins to dorms and apartments, have been fully participated in by both parents, collectively. This is the stuff that causes her family and my family to continue to treat both of us as family to this day.
So, if you are raising children, the take away here is that the political education, facts, and ideological training is important, but you have to understand that this isn't just verbal information. Its mostly how you act on what you profess you believe. Its that piece your children will pick up on more than anything else. Focus on creating a plan that permits you to flush out what your revolutionary values are and figure out how you can share those values with what you do with your child on a daily basis. Keep love for humanity at the center of those values and be as open and honest as you can utilizing self criticism to admit errors and mistakes. All of this will create an atmosphere of trust and respect. Your child knows you are not perfect whether you realize it or not. By attempting to hide your flaws, all you do is diminish your credibility. If you build your relationship on honesty it will be very difficult. For example, I made early mistakes with dating choices when my daughter was younger and I've been brutally honest with her about the struggles I had led to the decisions I've made. My point is the honesty comes with a heavy price, but its a price you have to be willing to pay if you want to raise your child differently. In capitalism, everything is form over essence. If you subscribe to these same backward values, prioritizing how things look over what they represent, you will be making the same mistakes that were made with you.
Finally, be prepared to make mistakes and possibly, serious errors, but provided you try to stick to honestly, you will find that your children are very adaptable. One other thing. This focus on honesty between you and your children cannot be seen as something operating in isolation. Its essential that you maintain that same principled stance on larger issues that confront your children's lives. This is a serious error that so many so-called revolutionaries make in raising their children. Your children, and you while you are raising them, will encounter many instances where decisions of principle must be made. Where the criminality of the system, the need to call out that criminality and immorality, and issues of comfort and personal safety for you and/or your child, will be in direct conflict. I'm not saying that anyone should ever snitch on your children or anyone to the terrorist police (there are much better and more effective ways to deal with those types of contradictions). What I'm saying is you can't preach revolutionary values 24/7, but when it comes to your child accepting a military scholarship or speaking out about imperialist intervention in the world, you need to be very careful in how you navigate through a challenge like that. If you are not careful and decide to choose personal advancement over collective truth, your credibility will be exposed to your children, and everyone else, forever.
None of this is rocket science. Like everyone always says, its really just about "keeping everything 100." Be real with your children. Make revolutionary values something living, breathing. Not just empty rhetoric. If you do that, your children, like mine, will grow up to be principled human beings who you won't have to worry about selling out and being an embarrassment because when that happens, it reflects as much on your inconsistencies as much as it does your children.