“Hands off our children!” Why I Joined the African National Women’s Organization

I was introduced to the work of the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO) through the #ArrestCPS campaign. My comrades Demetria Hester and Erika Clark were holding #ArrestCPS rallies in Portland, Oregon. I was drawn to the campaign because of my very own experience with child “protective” services and family separation.

As a child, my white mother lost custody of my sibling and me. She and my sibling’s father were deep in their drug addictions and had allowed our home to be taken over by a sect of the Portland Crips who my mom and her husband owed money to and had stolen a bunch of products from. The gangsters weren’t leaving until they got every cent back.

I witnessed drug use, murder, and prostitution, among other things highly inappropriate for children to see. Instead of being given to my African father or being taken to foster care, we were turned over to my mother’s adoptive parents, who were also white. Living with them meant enduring deplorable living conditions, emotional and physical abuse from my adoptive grandmother, and physical violence from white kids in my all-white neighborhood and schools.

I remember very clearly my sister and I being tied up, in my front yard, to my grandma’s favorite tree. We were beaten with jump ropes by white neighborhood kids ‘just playing a game.’ My sibling and I were chastised for messing with the tree, but the white children who had beaten us were not even questioned.

My white family kept me away from my African family

I acted out. I was called unstable and mentally ill. I was hospitalized and placed in a psychiatric facility–forced to take so much medication that it disabled me to the point where I could barely speak.

I was intentionally kept away from the African side of my family. My mother and grandmother worked hard to poison me against them. Insisting my father never wanted me, that he wouldn’t even pay child support to help provide for me. They said he was the person who introduced my mother to her addiction in the first place and other ugly things. I was constantly told how I was better off with the white side of my family.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I learned the truth; my adoptive grandparents had attempted to terminate my father’s rights to me. My grandma and grandpa received money for keeping me. At that time, my African father lacked the financial resources to fight them for custody of me.

CPS came after me and my kids

Eventually, I had children of my own. When my first born was three years old, child protective services (CPS) started coming after me. A daycare center I sent my son to insisted he had something wrong with him. They said he couldn’t sit still, that he was aggressive, and wanted me to have him evaluated for ADHD and put on medication. Because of my own experience, I refused.

It wasn’t long before I received a letter from the daycare notifying me that they had reported me to CPS for medical neglect. CPS started calling me and social workers and police showed up at my home and my son’s daycare. I became terrified that they would take my child away from me. I did what they asked, and they still came after me. It took my white mother coming and saying she was helping to take care of my kids (even though she was not) for them to leave me alone. This white woman’s claim of ownership over us kept agents of the State from stealing my child away from me. That wouldn’t be the first or the last time. It would happen each year until I finally left Oregon.

CPS is the colonizer’s auction block

After I moved to Kansas, I joined the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO). I was appointed National Outreach Coordinator of the #ArrestCPS campaign specifically designed to expose the parasitic nature of the child welfare system, the modern day iteration of the African slave trade auction blocks, where white people would kidnap black children and sell them to the highest bidders.

These children would either end up picking cotton in the field or the big house serving the oppressor his meals. Today, black children are 43 percent more likely to die in foster care than children in the general population like Cedric Lofton of Wichita, Kansas. He was shuffled around from foster family to foster family, only to be murdered by police the night before his 18th birthday.

The first African mother I came into contact with in my position with ANWO’s #ArrestCPS Committee was Certney Rice. She had been in a relationship with a white woman for 13 years. When the toxic relationship ended after Certney was kicked out of her home, the white woman began claiming Certney’s children as her own which resulted in the State allowing the white woman to kidnap Certney’s children. During the time the children have been out of Certney’s care, the kids have experienced physical and emotional abuse as well as neglect.

My story and Certney’s are a real-time example of how the white people closest to you will often resort to tools of colonial oppression to maintain power and control over the black people in their lives.

My father didn’t want a relationship with my mother, so my mother didn’t want me in contact with my African family. Certney’s ex did not want to be with Certney anymore but didn’t want to give up the lifestyle that came with being with Certney.

ANWO is the only organization for African working class women

The African National Women’s Organization is the only anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist African women’s organization fighting for the rights of working-class black women and femmes, no matter where we are. That work includes stopping the kidnapping and sale of our African children.

Every African deserves to have access to their family and their children no matter the circumstances. I’m sure you know someone who has been through something similar, because the colonial mode of production touches us all. It is up to us to be the solution and overturn our relationship to this mode of production. If we don’t, our children will end up in the hands of white people who only want them in exchange for a paycheck and a better station in life. We must unite and stand with mothers and parents fighting this corrupt system.

The African National Women’s Organization has developed programs to not only help African parents and families fighting to retain custody of their children with the #ArrestCPS campaign, but we also help parents who are reunifying with their children as well as working African parents who need childcare with the Uhuru Kijiji Childcare Collective program. We need African women and femmes to join us today in the fight to prevent children being stolen by child protective services and any further family separation. Our future as the African Nation depends on our children’s future and our ability to protect them from colonialism.

Hands Off Our Children!
Hands Off Africa!

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