I never understood why I would always dread Black History Month in school until I was having a conversation with my 4 older kids. They were telling me how they often dread this month every time it comes around in school too. Why though? After more conversations, they shared a few things that I would like to share with you. These are also feelings I felt as a multiracial woman of color too. They just put it into words for me.
“We are taught the same 4 people every year” or “If we’re the only black kid in class, everyone stares at us as we watch a movie about slavery” or “We never go deeper into the conversation. We stay away from the things that make others in the class uncomfortable after we were just uncomfortable watching or talking about our ancestors get beat or hung” and “No one ever asks how we feel about the traumatic experiences we just learned about”.
Wow! These feelings are so valid! As a parent, I can’t believe that I have left it up to the school system to teach my children about Black History. As an adult who also grew up in the same school system they now attend, I can’t really be that surprised that I didn’t feel more equipped to do so.
Earlier this year I set some personal goals. One of them was to be more intentional in my conversations with my kids about black history. I think it’s important for us to know about the things that are not just bad about our history, but the things that are filled with joy too!
This month we are being more intentional in how we celebrate Black History Month, which is for everyone. It’s a part of American History. So now, instead of dreading Black History Month, we will be celebrating by watching more movies about black people in black history, reading their stories, celebrating who we are, and the many ways our ancestors before us have fought for our freedoms and rights to live our lives today.
I invite you to learn and grow in this too! Read, watch the movies, ask questions, feel uncomfortable for long enough to ask why, ask how your black friends are feeling when you hear about the bad things, but also celebrate with them too when the good things happen! And might I suggest, don’t forget about your mixed/multiracial black friends too! You might be surprised at the things they share too!
Happy Black History Month! Let’s both lament AND celebrate in unity, together!