I remember attending school during Black History Month when I was growing up. February would roll around and it all of a sudden became highlighted that I was partially black.
I found myself feeling more like the spotlight was on my differences and I was somehow expected to represent black culture and history to my immediate community of friends and faculty which was majority white.
Culturally though, I felt more white than black. But, I definitely don’t look white. I didn’t have very many African-American friends growing up and most of my friends were white. When names like Frederick Douglas, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Harriet Tubman came up, I could feel a connection with them because of our shared skin tone and hair. I didn’t quite make the connection that I was sitting here, in an American classroom with kids of many colors because of their strength and efforts.
I went through a pretty standard public school system and I honestly never really felt a connection with history. All through school I got the good grades, but didn’t develop a passion for the story in which I was born into. Generally I did not see myself reflected in history. It didn’t really feel like it applied to me. Most of the women and girls like me that I read or learned about were during Black History Month. They were either slaves or victims of an oppressed system.
Oh how I wish that I could have learned about some of the great African Americans that were a part of our history earlier in my education. I’m so thankful that now as an adult, I am learning and celebrating so much more of Black History. And guess what? I don’t wait until February to learn about and celebrate the great black people who have lived before me. In our home we celebrate Black History all year long! Black history IS American history!
If you didn’t already know, the celebration of Black History Month in educational institutions began in the 1970’s. Today it is celebrated on a much wider scale with companies like Target and Spotify jumping on board. Today more than ever, I resonate with the beauty and power of being a part of black history.
Windows and Doors
A mentor and fellow mama, Amber O’Neal Johnston, consistently promotes that kids need mirrors and windows within their learning. She recommends we offer children opportunities to see themselves and others reflected in their lessons and especially throughout their books.
That is a game changer for me within educating my own children. Our family doesn’t look or feel like most families I grew up learning and reading about. I have taken efforts to bring books into our home library and check out resources from our library that represent us and also give the kids a glimpse into lives which don’t look just like ours or the ones they see in our community.
So yes, this is Black History Month. We honor that in our home. I also continue to daily praise the incredible works and contributions of so many African American men, women and children in this country who made a way for me and so many others to live the way we do today.
I’d be so curious to hear from you. How will you honor and celebrate Black History Month?