February is one of my favorite months because it feels like it's the one month that racism isn't overlooked and that Black people are not looked at as less than but really celebrated. Their contributions to the country are celebrated, people have a desire to learn more and diversify their lives in a greater way. Yes, as an African American woman I wish that was all 12 months of the year, but at this point I will take what I can get.
I believe this month is full of opportunity to teach the truth unapologetically, look at our own lives and make some changes, along with empower ourselves and others.
For parents, how you celebrate Black History Month can make a bigger impact than you even realize. It can change the learned prejudices that your child may have accumulated just from living in this country. It can empower your child of color by learning about their rich history and building more confidence in who they are in this country. It can change how your child sees others that are different than them.
There are so many lessons that our children learn from simply living in this world, and as much as we take credit for our child's views of the world, others and even the choices they make much of it isn't taught in the home. However, we can make choices that can impact and contradict other views they may naturally be consuming.
So, here are five simple ways you can celebrate Black History Month with your kids this year to encourage them to be more loving, confident, compassionate and caring people.
1. Purchase books that you can read together or that will increase their knowledge
There are so many great book options for kids of all ages. Here are a few that I am loving below. The important thing is that you purchase books that display Black people in a positive manner (not just slavery or civil rights). Those books are still great for education, but I believe it's important for smaller kids just to see it normalized to read books that show Black kids in normal situations the same as white children.
For older kids, purchasing books by Black authors is just as powerful as them being included in the stories. It doesn't have to be a long conversation but talking to them about the importance of intentionally supporting Black businesses (including writers) and diversifying their libraries is essential.
If their libraries are only of one race and seeing that same race visually on a normal basis and not another, sends messages to your child that you probably would rather fight against.
Some great options are:
"Stacey’s Extraordinary Words"
"The ABCs of Black History"
"All Because You Matter"
"Little Legends: Exceptional Men in Black History"
"Black History for Beginners"
"Black Boy Joy"
For adults there are many if you do some simple research and look at some reviews, but one of my favorites is:
2. Watch documentaries and films on PBS, Netflix and other networks
There are so many out there that are great for kids! The hard thing is that because they talk about the truth of the history of Black people, they are rated mature. This does not mean they are not appropriate and feels hurtful to many people that kids can watch appropriate specials on the Holocaust or other hard things that happened in history, but our history is rated mature for speaking about slavery.
This is important history and not extra graphic, but truth based. I find that kids who watch these specials have a deeper understanding of the hurt and pain that Blacks experience in the country versus trying to make it lighter or less harmful. Kids that watch these kinds of things tend to believe others experiences versus trying to justify them. These documentaries show that racism makes no sense so that they can start truly listening (and hearing) not gaslighting or trying to make that type of pain “make sense”.
Some great options are: "Kevin Hart's Guide to Black History" (on Netflix), "Hidden Figures" (Disney +), "Harriet" (Prime Video), "The Butler" (Netflix), "Loving" (Netflix), "High on the Hog" (Netflix).
Also, check your local listings as this month many there will be various appropriate specials on PBS, etc.
3. Support Black businesses and Black influencers
There is still a major gap in the support for Black businesses and influencers versus their white peers.
Your dollars make a difference. Your comments, likes and saves all make a difference. So be intentional with where you are putting them. It makes a huge difference in our economy when Blacks can make the same incomes as whites and every little action matters.
You can easily Google Black businesses in your area and speak with your kids about the importance of purchasing from companies of various races. Also, some major companies like Target have tabs on their website (not just this month) to highlight brands from Black entrepreneurs.
There is also a large gap for influencers of color, so intentionally amplifying those voices makes a big difference. When you are scrolling give a like + comment intentionally and share their content with your friends. Every follower and like counts to their success and getting brand partnerships.
4. Donate to charities making a difference
This is a simple google search for local or national charities. You can donate and make a big difference.
Many of these organizations lack funding and need it to make changes. You can donate to inner city schools, bail funds, and organizations that support Black lives and justice. There are so many.
5. Try some new recipes and talk about the history
There are many recipes that have originated from African Americans in this country and acknowledging and celebrating that is a great way to celebrate Black History Month. Cooking some of these recipes with your kids and watching documentaries like "High on the Hog" are a great way to teach about the amazing history of this country and how many races contributed significantly to that.
On my Instagram channel, this month I am sharing various recipes to celebrate this as well. If you are looking for a good cookbook that also has a little history woven in, "Jubilee" is great!
I hope that these simple ways to celebrate Black History Month are helpful to you and your families. It could make more of a difference than you even know.