Teaching my multiracial children about black history was not always my first priority.
My oldest child was born very pale, and I often got asked if she was mine. I worried about whether or not the constant questioning about her skin tone would affect her identity.
I poured myself into finding books that represented our family and began affirming her very early on about her identity. We talked about our similarities and differences, and I complimented her often on her brown skin and curly hair.
But now I realize that wasn’t enough.
As a brown girl growing up on an Air Force Base, I was surrounded by diversity. I learned about Sojourner Truth, Jackie Joyner Kersee, Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman in school.
When I think of famous Black people in history, those are the ones that immediately come to mind. I can even remember learning about most of them in 3rd grade.
My parents bought me a book about black inventors that was interesting, but other than that, I don’t remember hearing too much about Black History until I was in college.
#Blacklivesmatter in 2020 has brought on a resurgence of people teaching black history–black and white and all races in between.
People all over social media are vowing to raise their children to be kind, compassionate, and antiracist.
I spent so much time affirming my children’s identity, that I haven’t spent as much time teaching them about Black History.
The death of Ahmaud Abrery happened just hours from where we live in Georgia. That was my wake up call.
So this is why I’m teaching my multiracial children about Black History:
My multiracial kids are half black
I owe it to them to teach them a history that is relevant to them. They need to understand the struggles that black people overcame and how they have begun to write their own success stories.
It’s important to know the facts–like at one time it was illegal for their parents and other interracial couples to be married.
They won’t learn everything in school
When I was in college, I was a professional writing minor. I always had dreams of becoming a writer and one day having my own dear Abby column. I actually enjoyed many of my writing classes and professors more than my major (psychology).
One of the most enjoyable classes was African American literature. It was taught by a very energetic, quirky, and passionate professor. She was from New York and the information she taught me in this class blew my mind.
I never expected a course to shake my core and challenge everything I had ever been taught. It was the first time I had heard about Jane Pittman. It was the first time I actually read anything by Fredrick Douglass. It was the first time I had heard about Juneteenth. I don’t want the same story for my kids
What they do learn is a glossed over version
Lately, we’ve seen a rise in racial injustices all over our country.
People have been divided over #Blacklivesmatter and peaceful protesting. I’ve seen time and time again when people say things like “we’re all God’s children”,” there is no race but human race” and “I’ll be glad when things get back to normal.”
I’ve also seen where people quote Martin Luther King Jr and talk about how peaceful he was. The unfortunate part of that is Martin Luther King Jr. was arrested for standing up for what he believed in. He also wrote a letter from the Birmingham jail that encouraged civil disobedience.
“Sometimes a law is just on its face and unjust in its application. For instance, I have been arrested on a charge of parading without a permit. Now, there is nothing wrong in having an ordinance which requires a permit for a parade. But such an ordinance becomes unjust when it is used to maintain segregation and to deny citizens the First-Amendment privilege of peaceful assembly and protest.
I hope you are able to see the distinction I am trying to point out. In no sense do I advocate evading or defying the law, as would the rabid segregationist? That would lead to anarchy. One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty. I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law.
Of course, there is nothing new about this kind of civil disobedience. It was evidenced sublimely in the refusal of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego to obey the laws of Nebuchadnezzar, on the ground that a higher moral law was at stake. It was practiced superbly by the early Christians, who were willing to face hungry lions and the excruciating pain of chopping blocks rather than submit to certain unjust laws of the Roman Empire. To a degree, academic freedom is a reality today because Socrates practiced civil disobedience. In our own nation, the Boston Tea Party represented a massive act of civil disobedience.”
Learning history keeps you from making the same mistakes again
My children’s experiences won’t be the same as mine.
I don’t know what it’s like to be multiracial.
They don’t know what it’s like to be Black.
Teaching my multiracial children about Black History ensures that even if they are treated differently (because they could be white-passing), that they will not sit back and allow others to be mistreated in their presence.
I want them to understand that just because a situation doesn’t directly affect them, it doesn’t mean that they can’t use their voices to stand up for what’s right.
We can’t change the future unless we are willing to acknowledge mistakes we (as people or a country) have made in the past.
In order to dismantle systematic racism, you have to know what you’re up against
As a Black female, I have been faced with microaggressions my whole life. As a young girl, I had no idea what to say or do.
I want my kids to feel empowered when/if they are faced with microaggressions directed at them or others.
I’m teaching my multiracial children about black history because black history is simply history.
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