For a white child growing up in a predominantly white suburb, my parents were extremely progressive. We moved into a neighborhood with families of multiple races as our neighbors, we were involved in discussions around race both at Unitarian Universalist church and in our homes. But being raised in this context sheltered my views of the world, of how racism, privilege, and oppression were all forces still alive and well, affecting the wellbeing of those around me as well as myself.
February marks an opportunity in our calendar for education -as I believe all months and days of the year do- a time to educate ourselves about Black History. During Black History Month, parents with children in school will more than likely notice your kids are being taught a unit on Black History or participating in activities to celebrate this month. In my opinion, this is not the only month in which this history should be taught as Black History is United States History, and African History is bound to European History through the slave trade and colonialism. This month serves as a catalyst for beginning to educate ourselves about the rich history of African Americans and people of African descent all over the globe.
As a child growing up in a sheltered suburb, I remember times when my heart was touched by learning about the realities of the history of African Americans in this country. Through reading stories and watching movies, my small perspective on race and racism was expanded. In learning through these art forms, I was able to relate to these concepts in a much more personal way because my stories from my own lived experience tied into stories from different lived experiences. Stories and movies gave a name and a face to Black History, and I was grateful to have the opportunity to learn about such things at home as well as in school.
For Black History Month, I would like to suggest some movie and book titles for families. It would be a great exercise for families to read the books to one another or watch a movie and discuss how it made everyone feel and what they learned from the experience. For movies, I would recommend Ruby Bridges, The Ernest Green Story, Akeelah and the Bee, To Kill a Mockingbird, Sarafina!, Selma Lord Selma, The Color Purple, and Amistad. For books, I would recommend reading Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, Henry’s Freedom Box by Ellen Levine, In the Time of the Drums by Kim Siegelson, and Martin’s Big Words by Doreen Rappaport. These books and movies and many more can be found at your local library. Enjoy!
Amen, Blessings and Love,