Episode 48: How Liberation Work is Rooted in Our Ancestry, & The EmancipatED Experience with Crystal Menzies
What can our ancestral history teach us about parenting, liberation, and revolution? A lot. Let’s get into it.
In this episode, Dr. Crystal Menzies and I talk about how liberation work and conscious parenting are rooted in our ancestral practices. We explore the history of Maroon communities and why they’re significant to us today, how white people have rebranded tribal parenting methods, and how you can intentionally build a supportive community to help nurture your conscious parenting and liberation work. Then, Crystal highlights her brand new curriculum that you can soon buy to teach yourself, your kids, and the rest of your loved ones about African-Diasporan history and more.
Dr. Crystal Menzies is the founder and Chief Innovation Officer of EmancipatED, an organization that centers stories of joy and resistance within the African Diaspora through the creation of educational resources and curricula. Their flagship product – the EmancipatED Experience – is a community education resource that combines research, pedagogy, and African-Diasporan history to support the enrichment of Black families and our larger kinship communities.
As a former teacher, Dr. Crystal realized the lack of care in school systems for students’ holistic well-being. American education was never designed to liberate us, it was designed to oppress us and keep us in a box. To avoid the hopelessness that can so easily come with this realization, she pursued working directly with youth because that’s what kept her hopeful. That’s when she entered the non-profit sector.
Throughout a tumultuous experience in and out of non-profit organizations, Dr. Crystal returned to her textbooks to study Maroon communities. Through this historical knowledge, she learned that the status quo is not the be-all-end-all; it can be changed and there is liberation within the actions you take to change the status quo. Whether you run away with other people and build a new community, like the Maroons, or you find free people and build community with those folks.
Conscious parenting and liberation work can be scary because of the oppressive systems we still live with. It may feel like we can only go so far in this work before we’re taken down again. Instead of focusing on being smashed down, we need to focus on how we can continue to push conscious parenting and liberation further. There has to be a way for us to be free, right? Our ancestors were far more oppressed than we are today and they still figured out a way to be revolutionaries and break free from their oppressors. Well, that power is still within us.
Exploring Maroonage is about fostering togetherness and getting clear on who we are as a kinfolk unit.
- There’s power in local spaces as well as digital spaces. What are your values and who in your community shares your values? How can you find them and connect with them?
- How do you get free and stay free?
The whole point of this work is to live in a community where we support each other and the larger community but also where we can be our liberated selves.
Things that we see as new-age parenting methods, like baby-wearing and breastfeeding until toddlerhood, are not new. In fact, these methods are old and they started in Africa. Is that news to you? There’s a reason for that! Once colonization happened, these parenting practices were deemed uncivilized. Now, white folks have rebranded them as new-age, conscious, gentle parenting. This white supremacy delusion keeps white folks in delusion. It’s not just harming us, it’s harming them, too. They’ve become divorced from their own humanity.
What would happen if we all looked back into our own histories, wisdom, and why our ancestors became the people they have become?
What does community mean to you?
Everything we do is interconnected. When we start to look at the impact of not treating everything as interconnected, it becomes obvious that we need to treat everything and everyone as ONE. Parenting is not a singular act, it affects everything we do! The family unit is formed from capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy delusion, and violating small children is the foundation for keeping all of these systems going (and growing).
So, how do we dismantle these systems? Start with yourself, your kids, and your family.
The EmancipatED Experience is a multigenerational curriculum that provides a communal learning experience for all.
“Ultimately, I just wanted to create space for us to reflect,” Dr. Crystal explains, “like a guide for us to reflect on who I am as an individual, so there’s a self-exploration, then there’s a family exploration… Who are we as a collective within our family unit, extended family unit, and then our community? … How do I need to align my actions to constantly live up to this?”
Dr. Crystal has been receiving tremendously positive feedback from her EmancipatED focus groups. This curriculum is for anyone who wants to know more about history, liberation, and how we can start aligning our habits with our values to see change in our world. Young people are equal contributors in this educational experience. As Crystal says, let’s start shifting paradigms of possibility by planting these seeds of awareness, connection, and collaboration! You have the power to give your children the knowledge they need to become revolutionaries.
If you’re interested in learning more about EmancipatED, visit www.emancipatededucation.com!
Looking for a community that will support you on your parenting decolonization journey?
Listen in to this discussion to learn more and consider joining the Conscious Parenting for Social Justice Collective, our Black-led, multiracial collective of parents, working together to simultaneously transform ourselves, our families, and our communities by decolonizing our minds and healing racial traumas! Hope to see you there!
About Dr. Crystal Menzies (she/her):
Dr. Crystal Menzies is the founder and Chief Innovation Officer of EmancipatED, an organization that centers stories of joy and resistance within the African Diaspora through the creation of educational resources and curricula. Her mission is to cultivate communities of radical dreamers, thinkers, and doers through educational resources, collaborative learning experiences, and storytelling. The flagship product – the EmancipatED Experience – is a community education resource that combines research, pedagogy, and African-Diasporan history to support the enrichment of Black families and our larger kinship communities. Crystal earned her Ph.D. in Urban Education from Temple University and spends her days researching and writing about inequities in the education system, and spends her nights reimagining education for Black folx.