Black History month was always a big deal to me…well not always. I first recall caring about it when I was in 1st grade and my librarian filled our modest library with photos of Diana Ross, Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King Jr., Stevie Wonder and Jackie Robinson. I knew Diana Ross because my grandmother was the original supremes fan girl but Thurgood and the darker skinned baseball player were not familiar faces to me. That is okay…good librarians educate. This is what Ms. Franklin and Ms. Walsh did for me. They read books from Ezra Keats, they got me excited about my culture and they reminded me that it was of importance to be me. Why is this important…even if you are not raising Black children?
Because Black History is American History. Unfortunately, the history books may not boast the stories of Zora Neale Hurston or Toni Morrison but they hold stories that can inspire and motivate even the youngest writer and their story should be told. When we open up our minds to teach our kids about diversity and inclusion we share stories that defy stereotypes, break down barriers and prevent hate or misunderstanding based on fear or fables. When we make American stories relevant despite the hue of the heroine or hero we create a connection. I don’t want to tell you what to do but I can tell you what I do.
My son is biracial and for our home, that means he is half White and half Black. I teach him about Black history in small nuggets because he is three years old. We call them Black History moments and they are only about two minutes. I find something that he can relate to like a teacher and use that as a catalyst to tell him about Mary Mcleod Bethune. He loves these moments that we have focused on in February. In October we celebrate Halloween, In November Thanksgiving, December we celebrate Christmas, January he asks about the new year. He is getting used to themes. I don’t want to omit Martin Luther King Jr. Day or Black history month when we celebrate these themes. I notice that he looks forward to them.
The best things that I see from these efforts is his open heart to hear more and to retell me more stories. An important thing to consider as a mom of a kid of color he hears a lot about people who have made a difference in America that represent White people or those who look like his dad. I think the way that we teach our kids about diversity and those who have made strides who don’t look like them we teach them to realize that more than one type of person created the fabric of American history and relevance should be paid to as many as possible.