It’s Black History Month and that means a more dedicated focus on adding culture and diversity into every home. I’m sharing top resources from black voices with details on teaching kids about Black History Month. But it’s not just about the month of February – it’s about what we can, and should, be doing to educate our children all year ’round!
Beyond February – Teaching Kids About Black History Month
Black history IS America’s history. But it’s been poorly represented in the past. Yes, schools do introduce African-American leaders through their curriculum in the entire month of February. I’ll be totally honest – we learned very little about any black historical leaders in school when I was growing up. I’m grateful that now, the schools in my area have a Black History Month focus. And while it’s a great start, there’s definitely more to be done that can strengthen what kids can learn at home about black culture and history.
You have questions – You’re not black. Why is there an entire month dedicated to black history? Why is it important for non-black children (and adults) to learn more about the history of people of color? Again, black history is part of American history, but it’s been grossly omitted from teachings in the past. Becoming MORE aware by learning all that you can about black history, cultures other than your own and racism that exists towards all ethnicities is the first big step towards being able to teach your children. It’s the beginning of what empathy and peace could look like.
Ways to Add Diversity to Your Home
Choose toys and dolls that don’t look like your child. Use intention when adding new toys for your kids by choosing features in a variety of skin tones, styles, shapes, sizes and abilities.
Break stereotypes at home. Subtle (and not-so-subtle) racist undertones can slip into the home, especially if they’ve been passed down (ie: could be something that’s “always been said” but is actually a racist saying). Seek to break those stereotypes in the home by stopping the cycle with the language you use.
Read books about cultures and areas that are not your own. It’s a great big world out there! Show your kids the Earth’s diversity when choosing books that focus on unfamiliar-to-them cultures, traditions and religions. Choose books that feature characters of different ethnicities and skin tones.
What You Say Matters
Use your voice to speak peace and beauty about others (and yourself!) Where it might be easy to allow critical and negative comments to come out, make a resolve to only allow yourself to speak positively from now on. And yes, this includes what you say about yourself as well. Our children are listening. Don’t use the excuse, “That’s how I was raised”. You’re an adult. Bad habits, including what you say outloud, can be relearned for the better.
For sure any commentary about a person’s weight, size, or disabilities shouldn’t be said. But there are other mentions that do more harm than good. We’re talking speech like, “What a weird patterned dress” about someone’s cultural clothing. Or “Her hair is funny” about kinky curls. These kind of things point out unique differences, but not in a kind way.
For instance, when my daughter met Princess Tiana at Magic Kingdom for the first time, we talked about the moment later. (Tiana happens to be my favorite Disney princess!) I made a point to say how beautiful Tiana’s skin was. I didn’t gloss over the fact that Tiana has dark-skin. I wanted my white skinned daughter to hear that I think Tiana is gorgeous because of her dark skin.
Continuing the Discussion Every Day
Talk about it. I get that it’s easier to skim over things and not bother discussing things like racism at home. But with children, it’s okay to stir the pot and ask them their opinions about current events. It’s okay to talk about race. It’s important that kids “see color” and honor people beyond the skin.
Encourage kids to speak up when they witness or overhear unjust things. Lead by example and let your children hear YOU speak up as well. Knowing your convictions will allow you to speak easily about why anti-racism is important. When I was asked by another adult why I chose to purchase a black doll instead of a white doll for my white daughter, I knew my answer immediately. “Because it’s crucial that my child have toys that don’t always look like her and that look like people outside of her family”.
More Ways to Be Inclusive at Home
Outside of teaching kids about Black History Month during February, these are a few ways to be more culturally inclusive all year around.
Go beyond the “party” and dive into the history about cultural holidays and the real reasons they are celebrated. Dig into learning more about Juneteenth but also about other world events, including Lunar New Year, Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day.
Universal Yums has been a cool way for all my kids to learn about cultures and countries around the world. Yes, there are the snacks, but also tons of history about the chosen area and fun ways to learn and educate.
Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History on Netflix is one highly entertaining way for kids to learn more about unsung heroes. Yes, it’s comedy, but my kids remember what they’ve learned long after each episode is over.
Who Was books have been one way my older kids have enjoyed reading about important people of color throughout history. We own about 30 Who Was books on a variety of topics including What Is The Civil Rights Movement. I’ll be totally honest – I read them too and have learned so much from these easy-to-read books!
Black History Month Resources
Because I want to do this accurately and I’m still learning so much about black history myself, I reached outside of my own knowledge. I wanted to share information from fellow writers that are sharing their thoughts and ideas. These are content creators that I already follow on a regular basis. They are voices that I know, (personally in many cases) and most importantly, that I trust.
These women of color share resources where you’ll find deeper ways to discuss with kids about Black History Month, to take learning and discussions beyond the month of February. Some of these topics are going to elicit struggles within yourself. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable (that means these issues are working deeply within your heart!)
If you’re looking to support these content creators, consider following and sharing additional content from these black voices. I can guarantee you, if you listen, you’ll learn. You’ll think of things in ways that you might not have considered before.
The MOM Trotter
Karen Akpan write at The MOM Trotter and is founder of Black Kids Do Travel, created to bring about diversity in travel. I had a chance to meet Karen on a multi-day press trip and more recently, at a content creator conference. She has some extremely informative articles about Juneteeth and How to Raise Anti-Racist Kids, both great places to start when teaching kids about Black History Month and ways to think about diversity year-round.
Karen not only shares some amazing travel with children of color, she shares some of the behind-the-scenes discussions on her Instagram that you might not expect. For instance, which locations in the United States and globally are safest to travel for black families.
4 Hats and Frugal
At 4 Hats and Frugal, Amiyrah Martin’s lifestyle site, she shares many awesome tips for frugal living. My friend Amiyrah is a HUGE Disney fan, so you’ll get lots from the African-American point of view towards movies like SOUL and Black Panther. While there is some discussion about raising black children on the blog (see The Real Reason We Homeschool Our Black Son) most of her content in regards to race discussions comes through her Instagram. I love her approach and Amiyrah isn’t afraid to tell it straight, so lean in and learn. You get the bonus of her bright and beautiful smile!
Scherrie of Thirty Mommy shares tips that expand on education, music and art. I was able to meet Scherrie during a press trip and our two sons spent the entire trip bonding! She and her sons curate themed S-Mail Boxes to encourage writing skills and pen pals. I enjoy her practical approach toward teaching kids about Black History Month including this article about Diverse Books for kids and parents to read together.
Mama Knows It All
Brandi Riley is a strong voice in the blogging community, with powerflu videos that encourage everyone to just be better people in everything they do. She also speaks out about women’s mental health, raising black children and self care on her Instagram profile. For families that are ready to discuss and teach kids about Black History Month, this is exactly what you need: Brandi’s word-for-word script to discuss Black History Month is priceless. I’ve already followed it with my kids. And for visuals, see her list of what movies to watch on Netflix for Black History Month.
Are Those Your Kids
Diedre at Are Those Your Kids shares from the point of view of raising black children in a multi-racial family. Diedre’s side eye and humor when sharing about touchy situations on her Instagram account makes these conversations very upfront and real. On the blog, a must-read post includes her thoughts on why it was important for her to teach her multi-racial children about Black History Month. As a child educator, Diedre speaks on many levels to parents looking for additional resources and she has great suggestions for books and tools on raising bi-racial children.
Maria Smith shares lifestyle and parenting tips, along with family travel at Mamalicious Maria and on her Instagram page. We’ve spent time together in the past, as fellow contributors at TravelingMom. Maria is a bright spark! I appreciate that she isn’t afraid to bring up real issues in an honest and direct way, that still educates. Maria discusses frankly why being “color blind” won’t stop racism as well as questions to ask yourself about being racist.
Jennifer Borget is the voice behind Cherish 365, a place for “Embracing individuality & celebrating our differences”. Her photographers eye is a joy on Instagram, with a feed that is both real and idylic at the same time. She shares truthful discussions had within her multi-racial family, including the struggles and joys of raising children and being married to a white police officer.
Jennifer shares a round-up of her top must-read blog posts for teaching kids about Black History, with thought-provoking topic discussions like, “Do little white girls ever wish they were brown?” and “Why are you supporting my white cop and not my brown son?”