It’s Black History Month, and even though us Black folks joke that they gave us the shortest month of the year, I’m so happy that schools and teachers are being more intentional about incorporating stories of our diverse history into their curriculum over the next few weeks. I would be happier if this happened on a more regular basis to the point that we didn’t need a Black History Month, but that’s a post for another day.
When I was in middle school, I lived in Germany but went to school on a military base. I wrote an opinion piece for the base newspaper regarding the lack of African-American history being taught in the school. In high school, my classmates and I staged a walkout because the school decided that there wouldn’t be any Black history programming during the month of February. Thank goodness more educators have a better understanding of why we need to take at least a few weeks to focus on the contributions of African-Americans to our country’s history, but I’m still seeing some disconnect in the children. If parents aren’t taking the time to reinforce the lessons the kids are getting at school, they might start to feel like Black history is just information they need to know long enough to be able to regurgitate for a test.
It can be hard to bring up a topic that’s foreign to you. Even for me, a Black woman, starting deeper conversations about Black history with my own child that go beyond Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks was a challenge. Where do I start? What’s the first thing that I should say to open the conversation? Well, I decided to start at the beginning, and I’m sharing a simple script with you to get started with your own child. I’m not being facetious, y’all. Use this script to start the conversation with your child about African-American history. Then, do the work. Take it upon yourself to make sure your child doesn’t grow up not understanding the significance of African-American contributions to the history of our country.
Did you know that February is Black History Month?
Do you know what that means? (Don’t push them. If they don’t know, it’s okay.)
It means that we are going to spend time remembering the ways that African-Americans helped our country to grow and be great.
A lot of times, in books, movies and on t.v., people forget to talk about how African-Americans worked to build America, too, so we have this month to make sure we can remember.
I’m going to read some books to you about Black history, and we’re going to watch some movies, too. Black history is our history, too, because we’re Americans, so it’s important that we take the time to learn more about it. I’m excited! Are you?
Of course, depending on your child, they might have some questions, but this will get you started. Black (and other non-White) folks can’t be the only people teaching their children about the real history of America. We can’t be the only ones having these conversations with our children. This is your start. You can do it. Black history is American history, and all of our children’s history starts at home.