Between school, church, and extracurricular activities, my girls have cultivated a pretty impressive circle of friends of all races and ethnic backgrounds. At 2 and 6, they’re a little too young to delve into how African-Americans overcame slavery, segregation, and discrimination during Black History Month. Instead, my husband and I instill pride in the girls in less overt ways.
For Black History Month, we talk about the achievements of women and men who look like them without pointedly saying, “Look, their skin is like yours!” When we see Michelle Obama in a video encouraging kids to get active, I’ll interject, “She’s the First Lady, and she’s also a lawyer. You’d be a good lawyer, because you’re so persuasive.” When Viola Davis visited Sesame Street, I exclaimed, “I love her short, curly hair! That’s cute, huh? Grandma used to wear her hair like that.”
We’ll also talk about how the women and men in our own family overcame poverty and hardship to accomplish so many things. Eventually, we’ll talk to them about how my parents attended segregated schools and colleges in the deep South. We’ll talk about the fire bombings that shook the foundation of churches in their neighborhoods and the atmosphere of fear that swirled around them. We’ll talk about how my father, just a boy himself, stood alongside neighbors protecting their homes from Ku Klux Klan members who threatened their lives at nightfall as police officers turned a blind eye.
Someday, we’ll get to all of that. But today, we’ll focus on positive examples of black girls and women on TV and in the real world. In honor of Black History Month, I rounded up some quotes about motherhood from well-known black moms. Although their race is the same, their parenting perspectives and experiences are very diverse. Some are mothers to one toddler, while others are leading a household of five teens and young adults.
I pray all of our efforts will equip the girls with the self-esteem to face the ugly truth and blatant ignorance of racism when the time comes. How do you discuss Black History Month with your children? If you’re not black, do you ever initiate a dialogue about race and ethnicity with your kids?