“It’s the most wonderful time of the year…”
Birthday celebration planning…
And history – our history – where for 28 wonderful days (29 this year!!!) the history of people who look like me is told.
I know, I know, I’ve heard the arguments…
“We shouldn’t have a Black History Month. It’s divisive.”
“Black people are Americans, it’s really American history. There shouldn’t be a separate month for it because history is taught all the time.”
As so on…
But, the reality is, it isn’t.
I remember being a child and believing my birthday was in February intentionally, because it was Black History month. As if black people could only be born in February. Flawed, and heart-breaking. I later came to celebrate that I was born in a month when I saw pictures and heard stories of people who looked like me – for 28 days straight.
Now, we do read books throughout the year with stories and faces of “brown people” (as Enoch calls us). We also read stories with faces of people who look nothing like us -people with almond shaped eyes, or peach, yellow or dark brown skin, people whose written languages look like jumbled letters or pictures. Because, we need to see, love and appreciate people who are not like us.
But I love February. It is a special pleasure to make a big deal out of how God created us, in a world that often ignores and degrades us. I revel in the opportunity to have an intentional time to learn about the gifts He gave the world wrapped in “brown packages”. Brown packages which are often tossed aside with people assuming negative things about its contents.
But, not this month.
This month, beautiful “brown packages” are wide open and celebrated!
Prior to having little ones, I had lofty ideas of how we would celebrate Black History Month. Books we would read, trips we would take. But, now, they are here. Those lofty ideas have given way to practicality for their ages and our current season of life.
With that, I’ve decided to teach (and learn) simply this year. Our children are young, so I want to make basic introductions. They love tinkering. Therefore, this year, I will introduce them to African-American inventors using Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld’s What Color Is My World?: The Lost History of African-American Inventors
The story is told from the viewpoint of a middle schooler, Herbie, as he and his twin sister, Ella (see what they did there? Herbie and Ella :D. Love it!) talk with a handyman, Roger, while he works on their new home. As Ella laments about not purchasing a newer home, Roger informs them that this home is a “…celebration of achievement. Your parents’ achievement in providing a home for their family…”
Then, this statement… “There’s more to our history than slavery, jazz, sports and civil rights marches.” And with that, he proceeds to give them the history of 16 different African American scientists and inventors – a nuclear engineer, a bread machine creator, a heart surgeon, among others.
For 16 days, I look forward to introducing our children to one inventor a day, observing evidences of their contributions as possible – looking at traffic signals, eating bread. I imagine they are going to be thrilled when we get to eat ice cream using the ice cream scoop. But, that’s enough…
For those interested in learning more, there is also a list of additional resources provided at the end of the book.
Happy Black History Month – make it a fun, fruitful and educational one!
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