How I Teach My Son (His)tory
His Story is the Continuation Of Stories told And The Foundation Of the Stories That Will Come
My eldest is just old enough to understand the difference between him and the child sitting next to him. He's becoming vocal about what he sees and perceives as unfair and unjust while also voicing the need for, in his words, for everyone to just love each other everyday. Sadly, my goofy, beautiful, spirited child is also standing on the line, in what society normalizes, between cute innocent child and possible threat.
Why Representation Matters First
He doesn't completely understand the struggles that black people have endured when he see's the marching, rioting, and the anger of our people. He doesn't see a white man killing a black one. He see's a police officer hurting a civilian. Our kids do not see color we as adults do because we know better.
As a mother I know what my son will be walking into in just a few more years, when that childlike innocence is gone. I know that hurt and the anger he will feel when the world as he knows it turns on him.
With that being said I don't want to fill his mind with visuals of how we were property before we were people. How even after the chains were gone we were still at the mercy of their bondage. How, even today, we take 20 steps forward in equality only to be shot 100 steps back.
To do that would be telling my son he's lost before letting him feel the excitement of winning. We've done so much more in American History and those accomplishments are rarely talked about in the media and/or in our school districts except for during black history month.
However, against popular opinion, it's my duty to keep him in that safe bubble of simplicity for as long as possible. It's important for him to continue seeing others as just humans and not for the color of their skin or the back rounds that they grew up in.
While I am against him going out in this world naïve and ignorant to the dangers surrounding him; I am not against building a strong and positive foundation of the African American culture first.
It's very important that my son sees that our people were, and are still, more than just slaves bartered and bred to be owned. It's important for him to see positive images instead of only seeing pictures of men and women being beaten, sprayed, or trampled on constantly through out our history.
Teach Him All About The Firsts
Instead of allowing his school to skim the surface of what it means to be black I have to make sure to drill in my son's head what black excellence really is. He doesn't understand what our people had to go through to get to the achievements that they have over the years but he can still revel and appreciate their victories.
I get to teach my child how proud he should be to be an African American. How people with darker skin just like his accomplished greatness. My son will be learning more than just the fact his ancestors were seen as someone's property to be disposed of as they pleased. He will see more than broken black men in shackles on the pages of books in black and white.
While that is still our history and there is knowledge to be learned of that time, I will be starting my child's view point on the positives.
I will teach him of Jackie Robinson, the first African-American baseball player to make the majors, Guion Bluford the first black astronaut, Kenny Washington the first African-American to sign a contract with the NFL, Madam CJ Walker the first black self-made millionaire; About Cicely Tyson and how she paved the way for more beautiful African American women after her, Chadwick Boseman and how he was the first Black Man to represent a marvel super hero in his own stand alone movie. There is Barrack Obama, Kamala Harris, Tiffany Haddish and many more who are STILL creating firsts till this day.
Along with the positive and brilliant black men and women who have, and still are, paving the way for the black communities I make sure to explain to my son that just as these great men and women created a way for him he needs to appreciate their hard work and sacrifices and create more for the future boys and girls ahead of him.
History is being made every single day within the black communities and its our job to keep at it for those who will come after us.
Change is happening, we just have to stop looking back at the past enough to see it.
"I'm very proud to be black, but black is not all that I am."
Author's Note: I teach both my kids to love everyone as equals not matter what they look like or what they represent. While They still have to understand the dangers of going out into this world as a black person, they know and understand that they and everyone around them are more than the colors of their skin.
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