fACILITATED BY: Shabina Lafleur-Gangji
Why are so many of our QTBIPOC (queer and trans black, indigenous and people of colour) spaces so often inaccessible to parents and kids? What do we need to do to change that dynamic? How do we build community and movements of inter-generational voices that don’t just simply leave people behind when they have kids? These were the questions I was asking myself and so I decided to explore these questions in a roundtable discussion with a few racialized queer/trans parents.
Shabina: Can you
LeRoi: I’m LeRoi and I’m an educator at Africentric Alternative School and an organizer for BlackLivesMatter Toronto. I have a two and a
QueenTite: I am
Akio – I am human rights activist and a Mother of
Amandeep: My name is Amandeep Kaur and I have two kids aged 2 and 4 years.
Shabina: How do you find navigating queer/trans spaces as a parent? Do you find most spaces are accessible to you?
QueenTite: I find navigating queer spaces as a parent kind of challenging. I am still new to the city, so I haven’t had much opportunity to explore…but I don’t find [queer spaces] really available. Finding events that are family-friendly have been challenging.
Akio: Navigating queer spaces as a parent is hard, as it often feels like I have to create the spaces for myself or fight to have the space accessible to me and my spawn. Which I often don’t have time or energy for.
LeRoi: I find navigating queer/trans spaces as a parent to be challenging sometimes. There are some queer Black events and spaces that I’ve gone to that have been really dope for bringing kids, but I feel like there’s a lot of emphasis on creating queer/trans spaces for youth and not much for older people…I think lots of times people don’t think of making events accessible to parents if they haven’t grown up with lots of kids in their life. Also in terms of community organizing spaces sometimes there is just no effort to accommodate parents. I’ve brought my kid to meetings before when he was really little and spent the whole time chasing him around the hallways of Flemington Park Community Centre while everyone just continued their conversation.
S: What have you found really helpful in making community spaces accessible to you?
QueenTite: I have found having ECE (Early Childhood Education) educators present to engage the youths
Akio: Most spaces aren’t accessible to me nor any of my intersectionalities.
POC spaces aren’t sex worker positive, queer spaces too white and all of them are very
LeRoi: What helps to make spaces accessible to me is parties in the daytime. They have this dope party for BIPOC queers in Oakland where people turn up from like 2 to
LeRoi: Yea, childcare being offered is helpful to me, but I also like when people just find ways to make spaces engaging for kids, like the other day I went to the book launch for “I Love Being Black”. They had a bunch of play-dough
QueenTite: I’d like a community of willing affordable sitters also.
LeRoi: Yes to affordable
QueenTite: Sometimes I don’t want to beg my child – I want
Amandeep: That event sounds amazing! and I wanted to agree with the point about more affordable sitters
LeRoi: I feel like what actually ends up making events more accessible to me when there’s no childcare offered is friends taking turns kicking it with my kid..taking him outside to go crawl all on stuff or into the hallway to be loud…Other parents I know end up being the ones to do that lots of the time.
Akio: yeah, always.
LeRoi: Also people in my life who spend time with my son ‘cuz they want to build a relationship with him and ‘cuz they have privilege and time…
QueenTite: I know nobody so I don’t have that option… I haven’t entered any cliques, it’s just me. But yes what a blessing – and a necessity.
Akio: Yep, the folks that usually want to help with my child are usually white people.
LeRoi: Yeah, I’ve had that experience too…
Amandeep: Having more folks want to make the trip to where I live cuz they want to spend time with my kids doesn’t happen often enough. I am fortunate to have my mom and my sister on occasion but feel I don’t have any other friends to rely on now.. the
Akio: I like to keep my circle small and tight cause I’ve seen how folks treat their own and I’m not trying to have my private business out there for the local queer 6 o’clock news. So often I go it alone and for the most
LeRoi: Yeah, I love that. There’s a queer Black BBQ during Pride that is pretty dope like that…there’s also Queer Black FAM JAM that has lots of kids roll up usually.
S: What do you find are common problems with things like
QueenTite: Problems with child care – not enough variety in the space for the age ranges – emphasis on the very young – older kids get slightly less attention. No,
Akio: They are subpar, not age appropriate and often boring.
LeRoi: Sometimes I have found that there aren’t enough people working in the childcare room and the childcare room is kind of just like mayhem. People need to realize that for babies/young toddlers the ratio should be 1 adult to two babies. The other thing is I feel like there isn’t respect for childcare being a position that requires a lot of skill and experience. Sometimes the people doing childcare aren’t trained properly and they’re just like “winging it”. Like my
Akio: Duct tape!!!
Akio: See I’d need bail money. But I digress…
Amandeep: omg yes LeRroi.. haha..
LeRoi: I think this points towards….for those of us who are Black …sometimes when childcare is offered by white people there is a bit of a cultural disjunct. Like, I don’t want my child running up and down, doing any and everything.
S: What do you think people need to address in order make community space accessible to parents and children? How do we build intergenerational spaces?
Akio: Advance planning, Invest in resources (money, activities etc), engage parents, age-appropriate child care.
LeRoi: What we need more of I think is an effort to make events accessible…we need people (not just parents) to clap back when you see events posted that don’t offer any childcare. We need people to value us…so for
Akio: We can’t even…Folks barely recognize intergenerational folks much less. The thought or actions to make spaces. We gotta break it all down and build up from scratch with accountability and transparency.
LeRoi: That can be true so much of the time. I have seen some really dope things in practice though. Like I saw this daycare one time that was housed in
Akio: If I had a dollar for
LeRoi: I would be envisioning something specifically for
Akio: Toronto Child Care collective here in Toronto But it didn’t have the right clique to gain momentum But the more we create spaces for us by us the better we will be.
LeRoi: Childcare collectives are really dope though. I remember there was one in Montréal that offered free childcare for families without status and for events and ting. Also, they would do a March Break camp that was really cool where kids would learn to DJ and stuff.
Leroi Newbold is an artist, community organizer and an educator at Canada’s first public Africentric school.
Instagram and Snapchat: @missqueentite
Akio is a Single mom, Human Rights