It’s Black History Month, and I’m a White mom with a White husband and a White kid. I’m guessing you’re probably wondering what it is I have to say on the matter…being White and not Black, after all. My kiddo isn’t even two, but we’re already talking about what we can do to make sure that the future of Black History Month is full of redemption, love, and hope for humanity.
One of my dear friends is the proud mama to two beautiful Black children. We play with them often and learn from them constantly. We’re working really hard to not be a colorblind family, one that fails to see the incredible nuance of the many members of the human race. We’re trying to be color brave as we learn and grow as a family to be advocates and allies with our Black brothers and sisters. As a society, we have come so far since Dr. King famously said, “I have a dream that one day….little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.” But, we most definitely still have room to grow. I’m hoping to raise the kind of man who is part of a generation of color brave Americans who will step in to support, protect, and stand up for what is right, even in the most difficult situations.
So I’m asking lots of questions and learning all sorts of devastating, humbling, and inspiring information as we take this journey as a family. I invited my friend to share some of what she’s learning too and how we can work together to make sure the future of Black History Month is a bright one.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
First, I wish we didn’t need it. I wish that Black history was included in American history. Sadly, the honest history of the Black community in this country is often missing, watered down, or even at times false in the textbooks our kids learn from. It is incredibly important for our kids to learn the truth in age appropriate ways so that 1) they don’t repeat history and 2) so they can have some understanding and compassion for why many people in the Black community are angry, frustrated, upset, and impatient.
How has being a multiracial family affected you?
What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned on your journey raising Black children? What are you still learning?
I’m learning new things everyday and I’m sure I always will be. I’m learning about everything from hair care to civil rights and everything in between. I’m learning to stop talking, assuming, judging, and to start listening to the Black community; to my friends of color. To honor and sit with their stories, even when they make me uncomfortable, to respect their lived experiences over my opinions. I have learned that I was born with heaps and heaps of privilege. Some of those I can pass down to my children, but some I cannot. I have learned that I can be a lot of incredible things for my daughter, but I can never be a Black woman. I have learned to humble myself and recognize that there’s a community that my kids belong to and I don’t. That community has things to offer my children that I can’t. That’s a hard pill to swallow as a mom, but necessary if I want to do right by my children.
How would you encourage families who want to be advocates for the future of Black History Month?
I would love for you to join us in listening, learning, and raising, a color brave, anti-racist generation. I know it would be easy for an all White family to ignore the hard truths or feel uncomfortable engaging the conversation. I know that 5 years ago none of this was even on my radar, why would it have been? Instead, choose to engage the conversation. Go read some blogs that Black people are writing this month, make an effort to ONLY listen, no judgment, no assumptions. The two biggest things you can do are listen and teach your kids to not only be non-racist but be anti-racist. Consider buying your children books or toys that represent people of different races. Don’t fall for the gimmick that love doesn’t see color. Love honors and respects color and race. I felt extremely loved when a friend bought her son a Black doll because she thought of my daughter and it crossed her mind that she should be able to see Black dolls at houses other than her own. She loved my daughter by seeing her skin color, not ignoring it. Sit down with a Black friend and ask them what they want you to know and do nothing but listen and thank them for sharing. That, I think is how we do our part to fill Black History Month with forward motion, with hope, and with eyes wide open in love.
Want to learn more? Check out the list of resources below! What kinds of things are you doing to help your children understand and appreciate other races?
5 Things to Share with Your Child About Black History Month
Talking to Small Children About Race
Celebrating Black History Month: A Mother’s Story
Children’s Books that Bring the Black Experience to Life
Diversify Your Bookshelf – Children’s books to introduce and embrace diversity
It’s My Job To Raise Children Who Are Not Only Not Racist But Who Are Actively Anti-Racist
12 Essential Books About Race in America