Building Blocks



Joy Journey: Day 4

I always remember learning about black people at home. Sure, we had obligatory Black History Month projects at school, but that wasn’t my base about who we were and where we came from — it was my parents who, well who parented and taught us significant black facts as a part of our everyday living. My dad was actually a little like the dad in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, except everything originated with a black person instead of Greeks. I didn’t realize how much that influenced me until I became a parent.

It gives me genuine joy to see their faces light up when they learn about Bessie Coleman, Zora Neale Hourston, Wally Amos, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, Nat Turner, Sarah Baartman, Malcolm X, Queen Nzinga, Patrice Lumumba, Huey P. Newton, etc. and it’s not exclusively from school work. All but two of those were homework. Those bits of knowledge were initiated by the dedicated parental units around these parts.

The joy comes from them knowing and understanding, and from making the lessons tangible. A month or so ago, there was an incident that involved some young ladies, some twerking, a video recording and some too little shorts. The result? A lesson on Sarah Baartman and a discussion on why willingly objectifying yourself is unacceptable behavior, when so many were (and still are) involuntarily put on display and paraded like sideshow acts. Yes, some do it voluntarily, but that’s another post for another day. Today I’m talking about the interest sparked in a preteen, who had no prior knowledge of that woman, and who was interested in learning more. That more lead to Emmett Till and beyond.

My joy comes not from rehashing the past just for sensationalism sake, but in sharing it like it was shared with me; and also from sharing that history with those outside the community as well.

A friend at work and I were talking about Black History Month and the things we do to commemorate, and I told her that everyday the kids, ALL of my kids, had to identify a black person who’d had some significant historical influence or contribution and tell us about them. The next day, this white co-worker, sent me a link to a site that did daily Black History postings and she thought the kids would benefit from i
, and then added that she was learning too!

That made me almost as happy as hearing a 5 year old latch in to the idea of Queen Nzinga, even though we covered her 2 days ago, and wanting to know more about the warrior queen from Africa.

Yeah, we’re doing something right, and we’re just getting started.


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