I’m an American & I Refuse to Raise My Child in the States

Imani Bashir

imani and her family
Imani Bashir

I’m certain that if you ask any black girl to tell you her dream birthing story, she’d say she would have her baby in her studio apartment, in the winter, in one of the whitest countries on Earth. Okay, most likely not! But, that was my ideal birthing situation and I wouldn’t have reneged on that decision because of what it meant for my present and for my son’s future.

My husband (Zahir) and I are travelers, by choice. Just two nomadic spirits who fell in love after meeting each other in Cairo, Egypt, where I had been teaching. The epitome of “wanderlust.” So when I became pregnant, I knew that I did not want to have my baby in the states. This may sound a bit unpatriotic, but as a Black woman in the United States, the odds were stacked against myself and my unborn.

  • Imagine the horror of not wanting to know the gender of your child because of worrying about which hashtag they would be a part of.

    Imani Bashir
    Imani Bashir

    Because of this, I chose to wait until my son was born. I thought the stress of thinking too far into his/her future would’ve caused me extreme anxiety and I wanted to try my best to experience a positive pregnancy. It’s bad enough that black women stand in a constant face of danger when pregnant and/or giving birth. In an article in The New York Times Magazine, the Centers for Disease Control reports that black women are three to four times more likely to die because of pregnancy- and postpartum-related causes than white women. In addition, black infants are twice as susceptible to dying than white infants. These numbers are widespread and are not exclusive to impoverished communities. Recently, Serena Williams opened up about her near-death birthing experience. I wanted to bring my child into a world that was more accepting of his life than his death.

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  • And the truth is, by not having my son in the states, I got all of that and more.

    Imani Bashir

    During my pregnancy, my husband and I traveled around six cities in China, spent our babymoon in Thailand (for a month), came back to the states for two weeks, all before heading to our final destination of Szczecin, Poland: a city about two hours outside of Berlin. We were excited at the notion that we would birth on our terms and did not desire any added and unnecessary pressures of having to birth in a hospital setting.

    Upon having our son, a  midwife came to our home to check and make sure he was safe and healthy. A priest from a nearby church heard of us and gifted us with bags and boxes full of every baby necessity one could think of. It was then that I swelled, in tears, knowing that we had made the best alternative decision.

  • I, a black, Muslim woman, had been given the respect as a human and mother by a community I did not even belong to.

    Imani Bashir son with stewardesses
    Imani Bashir

    This had been the goal, all along.

    Our son has since been to the United States, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Spain and lived in Egypt all before turning 1 year old. The purpose is to show him that he is not meant for one corner of the world. We want him to be confident regardless of whatever odds, prejudices, or ill-expressed narratives of what it is to be a black American befalls his journey. We are raising an international citizen who can proudly say he’s American while welcoming a true sense of globalization and love for humanity.  Thus far, our plan has worked in our favor and in his. He is constantly surrounded by people who champion him, kiss him, and even give him free stuff.

  • Who doesn’t like free stuff -- including the freedom to just be?

    A part of our goal is to raise a “world-schooled” educated child who is multilingual and consumes an alternately, diverse curriculum. In this style of homeschooling, we can still travel and he will be provided with the lessons necessary for him to excel. As an educator, I notice that the students I have who are well-traveled are more tolerant, well-spoken, and very aware of how to interact with people of various cultures. 

    This is the dream I have for my son. In our three- to five-year plan, we do prefer to affix ourselves to one place we feel comfortable calling “home” and allowing our son to have the stability of a village of people who consistently love and support him.