As a follow-up to my post “Those Dogs Don’t Like My Black Skin” I wanted to discuss some positive actions we take in our home to promote black history year-round.
As white parents on a mission to provide diverse experiences for our African American daughters, we choose to be lifelong learners. This has required us to evolve, grow and change, accepting at times that our views of the world and reality might change. Much like my view of motherhood changed after becoming a mom and living with a newborn.
Creating diversity in your own home might be easier than you think! Here are 6 things we do to promote black history year-round.
We go to events that celebrate, highlight and support people of color. We attend pancake feeds, community BBQ’s, natural hair care conventions, and other yearly events that can give our children opportunities to be in the majority. I initially felt surprisingly uncomfortable attending events as the minority. However, with exposure comes growth and maturity and I am no longer intimidated by these experiences. I now appreciate the reminder of how my girls feel when they are frequently the only black children at birthday parties, play groups, and family events.
Diverse Book Collection
This never really crossed my mind until our adoptions. I just didn’t realize the lack of diversity in children’s book. I had always seen my own skin color in many of my childhood favorites. Finding and growing a diverse book collections has been more difficult than I anticipated. It has required buying books on-line, seeking out diverse book lists and making the effort to expand our collection thoughtfully.
Providing my children with micro events is one of my favorite ways to “do something today.” The issue of racism and prejudice makes me feel helpless at moments. Now I realize I can provide diverse learning opportunities right in my home. For example, I will choose a theme like Rosa Parks, print a photo of her, and find a free online coloring sheet. Then we’ll read a book highlighting Rosa and her amazing courage in the face of fear. In the background or during a dance party, we might be listening to Etta James, Chuck Berry, Santigold, or TV on the Radio. Just like that I can do something today, a positive and vigorous action!
We volunteer our time and money for non-profits that supports diversity. In the past, I’ve chaired the diversity and inclusion committee at a local non-profit. My husband volunteers at a middle school. He uses his engineering degree to help with the robotics program. I think he secretly loves playing with robots as much as the kids! Find ways to use your personal skills or interests to improve your community.
Images of Diversity
The girls have dolls and Barbies of all different colors. At Christmas, we display black Santas and Angels. When streaming content we avoid shows that lack diversity in characters.. We are more thoughtful with our artwork adding pieces by people of color or inspired by African American culture. We enjoy reading African American literature by amazing authors like Maya Angelo, Langston Hughes or Zora Neale Hurston.
This is my #1 suggestion! When your child talks, comments or asks about race, engage! Don’t diffuse the conversation – keep it going. Ask your child “Why do you feel that way?” “Did something happen that implied that?” “How did it make you feel?” “How do you think it made the other child feel?” “How could have the situation be dealt with in a more inclusive way?” “You can always talk to me, do you have any other questions?” Our children look to us for guidance and openness. The more we discuss race, the more prepared our daughters will be to navigate the complicated society we live in.
In seeking out opportunities to honor black history year-round we promote a lifestyle of inclusion and diversity. As parents, we must coach our children; tolerance and empathy are learned. Within diversity and adversity there are opportunities for growth and maturity. We plan to make the most of organic opportunities and create as many other opportunities as we can – and you should too!