Before beginning, I want to acknowledge that while I’m certain my audience here is not solely white, there is a disproportionate percentage of white people within the national homeschooling community, so I’m primarily addressing people for whom this subject is often overlooked, or who only give a brief brush of the topic for a single month each year.
Though I have been active on Twitter, Facebook, and even my writing page regarding Black History Month, I must apologize for forgetting to mention it here. Every day, my kids and I have discussed at least one black leader, hero, or notable individual. From civil rights leaders to artists. From politicians to scientists. People from the past and present. I’ve shown them videos, websites, photos, read their stories to my son. (Visit Satyr’s Garden for a list of my personal black heroes.)
We’re excited to see Black Panther in the theater, but we’re waiting a couple of weeks to save those seats for POC. Daughter understands the significance of the film, son thinks it looks like another exciting superhero film. (A reminder on why representation matters. And specifically Black Panther. And a comment on representation from former FLOTUS, Michelle Obama.)
Being four, he doesn’t grasp yet the import of the movie, the history behind the month, or what other children his age go through. He’s learning, bit by bit. The other day, he walked in on me watching a video of a white police officer brandishing his gun at a handful of black children who were playing ball on the sidewalk with each other outside their homes. One of their mothers had stepped out on the porch and was so terrified she was wailing in the background. He was confused.
We had a discussion about what was going on that led to one about why so many adults he knows distrust police officers. It wasn’t an easy conversation, but it was far easier than the talks POC give their children about how to act around police to avoid being murdered for the color of their skin.
While my son will be raised to see POC as humans, equals, and friends, I know that’s not a shared view by the current U.S. government, many institutions in place within my country, nor many of the supporters therein. My kids have seen me go off to protests, when my daughter was little, I brought her along, because protests didn’t usually involve the risk of violence. Now I leave the kids at home with my partner.
Why am I being political on a homeschooling blog? Because being socially literate is as important to our education as the academics we teach. Because the political is personal. Racism is rampant in our country, Nazis and white supremacists are vocal and taking positions of power, and it’s becoming ever more dangerous in this country to have brown or black skin.
If you’re also white/European American, and these things matter to you as well, please teach your children. Show them that it matters. Work on a local level to dismantle the systems in place that continue to hold down POC. Teach them about black heroes of the past and the ones working hard today to follow their dreams and make the world better, in spite of the extra obstacles they face.
Write or call your legislators at both local and national levels. March with Black Lives Matter and protest against white supremacist rallies. Make it uncool to be racist again. Challenge people in your circles who tell racist jokes, hesitate to hire dark skinned candidates, or make generalized statements that aren’t true. Do this daily, not just for the month of February.
Raise up POC in your community, promote their work on social media, donate to projects. Buy tickets to see Black Panther, and send some extras to a POC who can’t afford movie tickets themselves. Need more ideas? Here are some:
- 5 Ways White People Can Fight White Supremacy
- 9 Ways White People Can Support the Fight Against Racism
- Doing the Work: White People Must Invest in Anti-Racism
As part of my efforts to support Black Lives Matter, I’m donating 100% of my share of sales for Cress and the Medicine Show earned every February from this year onward, and 50% of my sales every other month.
Also, if you’re an educator working with high school-aged teens (including homeschoolers) or young adults in college and wish to see if this story would support your curriculum, I’ll happily send you a .pdf. You only need send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “Free Copy of Cress.” You’ll be given a teacher-specific copy that includes permission to print for the purposes of education.
If you’d prefer to not purchase the book, but would rather donate directly to Black Lives Matter, you can donate here. Another excellent way to offer individual reparations is through Reparations started by Natasha Marin.
A Few Recommended Picture Books:
- Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend by Calvin Alexander Ramsey
- Chicken in the Kitchen by Nnedi Okorafor
- The Boy Who Didn’t Believe in Spring by Lucille Clifton
Some Recommended Novels:
- Kindred by Octavia E. Butler
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- The Girl with Magic Hands by Nnedi Okorafor
- Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
More Book Lists:
- Epic Reads: 21 YA Books for Black History Month
- The Measured Mom: 40 Black History Books for Kids
- Barnes & Noble: 8 Must Read Books for Black History Month
- Okay Africa: 9 Black Fantasy and Sci-Fi Novels That Will Take You Out of This World
- The Root: A Guide to Fantasy and SciFi Made for Black People, By Black People
- For Harriet: 7 Black Women Science Fiction Writers Everyone Should Know
- African American Science Fiction
- AfroPunk: Book Blog
Transparency: The books recommended above are linked through my Amazon Associates account. If any books are purchased through those links, I will earn a few pennies per copy. Just as I will donate 100% of my portion of the sales of Cress and the Medicine Show this month, I will also donate any money, if any, earned from those links.