Parenting for Liberation, Helping Parents
By Dianne Anderson
Probably the most motivating reason for starting Parenting for Liberation came out of Trina Greene Brown’s own realization about how she was raising her son, and how the tight reins could do more harm than good.
The more she saw all the murders of Black boys, the more fearful she became and determined to keep her then four-year-old within arm’s reach.
Like many Black parents, trauma seeped into the overprotective way she was parenting. She was seeing her son in the faces of so many young lives lost.
“I was witnessing boys that look like my boy being murdered, whether from white vigilantes, Zimmerman murdering Travon Martin, from that Tamir Rice playing in the park,” she said.
At the same time, she was a youth organizer and educator, advocating for young people’s rights. At first, she thought she was being an authoritarian and a bad parent, but in researching, she recognized how she was going above and beyond what was needed to protect him. Her son, now 12, is doing fine.
“He was a little kid, he just wanted to go outside. I was definitely stripping away his freedom,” said Brown, who has lived in Orange County for over six years.
Today, her nonprofit Parenting for Liberation supports other Black parents in raising their children, supporting them through their concerns, and showing ways that they can heal from their own childhood trauma.
George Floyd’s murder has had a major impact on parents, she said, and witnessing that violence has to be unpacked.
Parents also may have picked up unhealthy habits with their past rooted in trauma and that, because hurting people hurt people, that trauma can result in making bad choices. She believes the community needs to unlearn the things that are harmful, and begin to instill a sense of cultural pride, love and nurturing into the next generation of children.
“You can’t feel whole and well for your children if you can’t feel whole and well for yourself,” she said.“ Once we are supporting our children, from there they [can] have strong voices and believe in themselves and can advocate for themselves.”
Currently, she is working in partnership with Dr. Natalie Graham, founder and director of CSUF Institute of Black Intellectual Innovation, specifically to help with their mapping project to identify Black businesses and nonprofits. The map will enable community connections with the hard-to-reach Black population that is spread thin.
So far, she has met virtually with all of the recent Black nonprofits that have received funding from Orange County Community Foundation. She said all of the African American nonprofit grantees are talking about how they can support each other.
This is her first time outreaching into an area with so few local connections. Since starting her nonprofit, she has worked in areas with a high-density Black population, such as Los Angeles, Long Beach and Compton.
But especially in a place like Orange County, she said being able to connect is important on many levels. Usually, on a good day, she may come across two or three other Blacks in her area of Buena Park.
“How do we come together and build community and see that we are not alone?” she said. “Once we get the [mapping] data, we’re going to culminate our project by getting folks together. Let’s celebrate Black business in Orange County. Let’s find and support each other.”
In her program, she said they always close out with a declaration in the fight for freedom with the duty to win, and to love and support one another.
“We have nothing to lose but our chains. We can resist any oppressive violence or hatred that exists in our community so we can stand up for each other and lock arms as a people united,” she said.
One unexpected benefit of their outreach is seeing how many seniors have turned out for the sessions, some are in their sixties. She said they are involved to learn how to begin to heal themselves.
“I also work with grandparents, with the elders who say that I wish I would have had a resource like this when I was raising my children. I might have done things differently,” she said.
To reach Trina Greene Brown, see www.parentingforliberation.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org