I have fallen in love with The Book of Negroes—also published as Someone Knows My Name—an award winning historical fiction novel by Lawrence Hill portraying the journey of a free African girl turned into a woman and a slave. This masterpiece relays the impact of slavery in a very raw, emotional, complex, and real way. What’s awesome is that the message of the book also resonates with my current perspectives on love and motherhood.
What has The Book of Negroes got to do with parenting?
You see, one of the hardest things about parenting is learning your child’s love language: the more children in your care, the more languages to learn.
The protagonist in this book, Aminata, shares her experience as a mother to her newborn son.
His sounds and movements were just like a new kind of language, and I wanted to learn it all so that I could give him everything he needed.
I too have been learning my baby boy’s language.
- I “wear” my baby when I can, so that he’s interacting more with his surroundings while I familiarize myself with his sounds and mannerisms.
- I’ve been learning his triggers so that I can minimize his discomfort and avoid excessive crying.
- I try to nurse him before he cries; my ears are attuned to the sounds of him grunting or rooting to suck his chubby fingers.
Family is precious. Love them good and love them big. Love them every day.
The tragedy of this story is that at just 10 months of age, Aminata’s “master” stole her son and sold him into slavery. The painful loss was compounded by physiological reminders such as being “full like an unmilked cow.”
As a mother and Black African woman, my heart weeps for Black women before me whose children were viciously stolen and sold as slaves.
The Book of Negroes teaches us that family is sacred: “love them good and love them big. Love them every day.” I thank God for my children. I love them harder every day.