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Black History Month and Little Brown Children

What happened to Black History Month?  I haven’t heard much about it, seen any specials on TV and were it not for the news anchor mentioning Garrett Morgan and the stoplight this morning, I might have forgotten all about it.  Is it because I’m older?  Has Black History Month somehow gone away?  Is it because Obama is President?

When I was pregnant I just knew that when my little one was school-age I’d teach her all about Black History.  I’d tell her about slavery, the struggle, determination, and ingenuity of our ancestors and give her the twice as good speech.  I haven’t done any of that.

I’m conflicted y’all.  How do you (if you do) teach your children about Black history without, well, fostering anger?  It is hard for me – as an almost 40 year old woman – to read about and study Black history without anger.  How do I teach my child about the past without planting seeds of anger in her little spirit?  I can’t let her grow up thinking that she’s on equal footing because she isn’t.  I don’t care how far we’ve come, racism is still alive and well and at some point it will affect her, no matter how subtly.

But I guess it is like everything else – I’ve just got to remember to be age appropriate with her and not start off with slavery or trying to recruit her into the Bla.ck P.anthers.  We went to the library the other day and are reading about Ronald McN.air, Be.ssie Coleman and J.esse Owens.  So far, so good.  Though she was pissed as all get out when she realized “Ron” couldn’t check books out of the library just because he was black.  Color her hot!

The other night I took her to see C.ornel West at JSU – color her unimpressed.  I, on the other hand, was both encouraged and motivated by Dr. West’s speech.

What, if anything, have you done to celebrate Black History Month?  Do you think there’s a need for Black History Month?  What do you tell your children about Black History?  (And though I think 99.99 percent of my readers are black, these questions are open to any and every body!)

Have a great week!


10 thoughts on “Black History Month and Little Brown Children

  1. I remember getting into a heated discussion in 4th grade over slavery with a Jewish classmate. She said something to the effect of “well my people were slaves too!” My aunt was very Afrocentric, so I had books about black heroes and “My First Trip to Africa.” My dad also made sure to tell me about the legacy of black folks. I find that too many parents/educators start with slavery, as if we didn’t exist before then. We plan to teach our son about Egypt and how black people were kings and queens, then get into all that black people have done in society…hopefully we can use their accomplishments to explain how slavery was a way that people tried to keep us back, but that we can overcome because of the people spoken about during black history month.

    Sorry to blog in your comments…guess I’m more passionate about it than I thought.

    • Great point about our history not beginning with slavery! I remember having black history comic books that were about the queens and kings of Africa. I have no clue where my parents got them, and I am certain they are long gone! Hmmm, may have to do an internet search….

      • Check out the “Afro-Bets” books. They are cute and easy for younger children to understand. I think Lovegirl would enjoy “My First Trip to Africa,” it’s about a little girl around her age. The author is Atlantis Tye Browder.

  2. Ry is 8 and Dony is 6. I’ve approached Black History month a bit differently between the two. Ry has “been here before” so I gave her the cold hard truth and we talked about the marches, sit-ins and Black Panthers. Dony we talked about Garret Morgan, Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglas and Harriet Tubman. We also picked out a few books at the library. The older I get, I feel like I get more and more militant so it’s very hard for me to give the kids the G-rated version of our history.

    • What is it with these old-soul girls?!? I think my discussions with Lovegirl will fall somewhere in between – that girl asks so many questions I feel like I’m on the witness stand sometimes! Do you remember any particular books you all chose?

    • My husband is super militant, so I’m kind of nervous about what our children will pick up…we were watching a documentary on the Panthers yesterday, and I swear the baby kicked in rhythm to “The Revolution has co-ome, off the pigs!”

  3. I haven’t followed through on any of my black history plans. This year I think I’m even boycotting it because I hate the slavery focus. I agree with Inner Diva — why don’t more people focus on our history before slavery?Every year I church produces what I call the “plantation play.” I refuse.

    Hugs and Mocha,

  4. Until all children know and understand black history without parents having to make all that effort, we need black history month. You know what helped me? Focusing on the strength of our ancestors. Their ability to not only endure but overcome. WE COME FROM AMAZING PEOPLE!! If your parents participated in anything amazing, have them share that with them, too.

  5. I’d love for you to do a follow-up post about what you decide to do moving forward. Either that, or I’ll just e-mail you when I have a child to figure it out. 🙂

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