Parenting Tips, Info, & Advice
Bringing it Home: Celebrating Black History Month with Intention
February is Black History Month!
Some schools do a phenomenal job of celebrating—and learning from—important holidays and honoring months like Veteran’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Women’s History Month, and Black History Month. And yet this year, with so many kids learning from home, I fear that some of the learning that might otherwise be done at school may fall by the wayside.
It doesn’t have to.
It can happen at home.
There are some amazing ways to engage in the history and celebration of our Black friends, neighbors, colleagues, and countrymen.
And using this opportunity as a jumping-off point for raising race-conscious kids who celebrate and appreciate diversity is one of the many definitions of heartful parenting.
I scoured the internet and reached out to a group of 3500 lady lawyers, many of whom are Black themselves, for their best suggestions, and wanted to share some of the ideas I (and they) came up with!
Explore the online/virtual offerings of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. During COVID, they have done a fantastic job of curating virtual exhibitions, online collections, an digital resources. They have some wonderful live events (via Zoom) including “Joyful Fridays” events for children ages 4-8.
Read books by Black authors and that feature BIPOC characters. Read them for yourself, buy them for your children, and read them to your children. Having a diverse children’s library is an important part of this; my favorite new resource for books from all over the world is the Atlas Book Club run by my friend and colleague Bunmi Emenanjo—my kids LOVE it.
Read the book Stamped or Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man with and to tweens and teens and use it as fodder for discussion at the dinner table. My older daughter recently read Stamped for her Battle of the Books challenge and really loved it. It’s readable, engaging, and thought-provoking.
Explore the 1619 Project; it is a project created by the New York Times that aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions at of black Americans at the center of our national narrative. The stories are fascinating and give a more complete history of our country than most of us learned in school.
Watch a movie celebrating the awesome contributions of Black Americans and the history of Black Americans; one of my personal favorites is “Hidden Figures,” but “Selma,” “42,” “Loving,” “Just Mercy,” and “The Great Debaters” are fantastic as well. Some of these have opened the door to great conversations with our older daughter.
Explore the offerings of your local African American History Museum; here in the Seattle area we have the Northwest African American Museum which has some fantastic offerings online during the time of COVID, including an event celebrating black vocal performances, and interactive story times for children. This Sunday, February 14, they are reading a beloved book of mine and my youngest daughter’s: Hair Love.
Watch “The Power of We”: a Sesame Street Special that teaches children how to become “upstanders” to unfair treatment based on skin color. It’s a perfect segue into conversations about what racism is, why its important to talk about feelings, what an “upstander” is, and what skin color means.
Research and discuss inventions by Black inventors with your kids to help change the common narrative that only white men are inventors. Inventors come in all shapes, sizes, genders, and national backgrounds! This list is a good starting point. Your kids might enjoy learning that the Super Soaker water gun was invented by Lonnie Johnson, a Black American and Aerospace Engineer for NASA who had some extra time on his hands in between working on the Galileo Jupiter probe and the Mars Observer project!
Research and support a Black-owned business in your area; many small businesses are struggling right now, and lending your support can be a real boon to them! Some local favorites, for those of you in Washington include the Metier Brewing Company (Woodinville), Ezell’s Famous Chicken (various locations), and Where Ya At Matt? (food truck). You can find more restaurant ideas here.
Most importantly, do these things all year long. Finding ways to celebrate diversity, support our Black neighbors, and educate our children on our history are not things that should be limited to February each year! Savvy, Heartful parenting calls for these actions year-round.
It’s my hope that some of these ideas will spark some creativity for you in finding ways to bring this celebration and learning to your home this month. Have more ideas? Send them my way! I’d love to share more great resources on the Heartful Parent Collective Facebook page!
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Christy Keating is a certified parent coach, positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.
The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.