Black History Month is a great time to expand our understanding of Black culture and celebrate Black excellence. Below are a few simple ways to get you and your children engaged. I share my ideas with the caveat that I am not Black. I identify as a woman of colour, and I have a daughter who is Black.
Read books to your kids with main characters who are Black and authored/illustrated by Black creators. A few books that my four-year-old enjoys are: ‘Imani’s Moon’ by JaNay Brown Wood, ‘Hair Love’ by Matthew Cherry, ‘Thank You Omu’ by Oge Mora, ‘Grandma’s Purse’ by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, and ‘Sulwe’ by Lupita Nyong’o (which has some religious references, FYI). Take it a step further and donate one of these titles to the Wymbin library–contact Wymbin directly for more information: email@example.com.
Highlight Black people who have done or who are currently doing remarkable things in the world by showing pictures and sharing their stories over dinner or before bedtime. Google is your friend here. Search terms like “Black changemakers, Black women inventors, Black artists,” etc.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to encourage more representation of Black characters in Disney films. In 30 years, Disney has produced only four films with Black main characters and only one featured a female lead.
Refrain from purchasing and reading books from authors portraying negative depictions of Black characters; this can even include animals that are black. For example, the picture book, ‘Ponyella’ by Laura Numeroff (well-known children’s author of, ‘If You Give a Mouse a Cookie’), published by Disney, portrays a beautiful and good white horse with long, straight hair who is the story’s hero, and bad black horses with curly hair who serve as the villains. The associations of white with goodness and black with evil condition our children’s psyches towards racism and white supremacy.
Include your children in making a donation to a Black-led and/or Black-serving organization. Calgary Foundation has a great list of groups that your family can choose from.
Because people have been disempowered, systemically disadvantaged, and stripped of power and agency both throughout history and today due to their Blackness, it is important that we rewrite wrongs and change the future by engaging children of all backgrounds and colours in celebrating Black culture and Black excellence.