Yolanda Williams didn’t plan on having children. She grew up in a family with limited resources where alcoholism and violence were a regular part of her upbringing. These experiences left her with many painful memories that she didn’t want to pass on to the next generation. So when she got pregnant at age 36, Williams made a conscious choice to get to the bottom of her own childhood trauma so that she could be a better parent to her daughter. She knew she wanted to raise her daughter in a non-violent environment where she felt safe and happy. “I didn’t like children, and I didn’t want to be around them, and I realized, it wasn’t until after I had my daughter Gia, I realized that was because of how I was raised,” she says. “I felt like I was a burden. And so I saw children as burdens. I didn’t see them as the wonderful teachers that they are, that now I can see them as.”
As she began her healing process, Williams set out to find parenting books and groups that would help her leave the past behind and build a fresh and healthy relationship with her child. But when the books she was reading didn’t resonate with her, and she couldn’t relate to the other parents she was meeting, Williams didn’t know where to turn. None of the parenting advice she received addressed issues of race, a topic the single mother knew she would have to tackle regularly. Williams eventually realized that overcoming her childhood trauma would require a lot of self-reflection and would be painful at times. But she knew she couldn’t move forward without doing this important work.
Williams didn’t want any other Black parents to do this difficult healing work alone. So she created Parenting Decolonized, a space for Black parents and caregivers to find the tools they need to raise emotionally secure children who are creative, independent thinkers. Williams promotes positive disciplinary practices and open dialogue on the site she describes as a digital village for Black conscious parents.
“What that means for me is I’m allowing [my daughter] to teach me stuff, and I teach her at the same time,” she says. “One thing I never want to do is make her feel like who she is is not good enough because that’s how I felt growing up. But as I parent her, I want her to be able to look at me as not just this authority figure. I want her just to see me as someone that she’s safe with.”
In addition to the content on her Parenting Decolonized site, Williams produces the Parenting Decolonized podcast, where she tackles topics like combating harmful mental health norms and breaking the cycle of sexual shame to have healthy conversations with your children about sex. Williams also offers one-on-one coaching sessions with parents to help them manage their triggers and develop stronger connections with their children.
While Williams is happy to help as many Black parents get a fresh start as possible, she acknowledges that the work she has to for herself is far from over. “As my daughter grows, and as we work together to co-create our relationship, I’ll continue to unpack my baggage; for showing up as my authentic self is the best gift I can give her, while at the same time, working with accomplices to dismantle systemic oppression comes in a close second,” she says.