I just don’t really celebrate it.
Because when you’re actually black every month of the year, focusing on it specifically for a month seems pretty redundant.
And, plus I forget.
For me, being black is really only a thing when other people make it a thing. I don’t wake up every morning and think about it. I don’t go to sleep at night and think about it. I don’t make it a point to remind other people every day so they have to think about it too.
As a biracial family, we have a unique family dynamic that incorporates both cultures in a way we find fulfilling and comfortable.
For some people being black (or female or American) is a bigger part of their existence. It comes before things like making sure their kid’s homework is done, and balancing the PTA budget before the meeting on Monday, and cheering for their Dudes at their basketball games. I’m not one of those people.
I am conscious of my struggle. I impart awareness on my children regarding things like race and sex and even patriotism. But, I’m not an activist. I’m a mom. Probably before I am anything else at this point.
I am proud of my blackness (and my womanness and my Americanness too), and I get as worked up over injustices as the next person, but for the most part, until someone else brings it up, or makes a big deal out of it (at which point I’m all, holy crap, THIS is because I’m a woman an American a black person!) I don’t sit around my house and think much on it.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
But in honor of Black History Month, let’s chat about this.
5 Things You Should Know About Black People
1. We can swim. Okay, I’m lying, I totally can’t swim. I mean, I do this doggie paddle thing that is like seriously embarrassing. I could save my kid in a swimming pool, but not a chance in the ocean. However, The Dudes, they’re fish. They are trained, competitive swimmers (6 and 4 years on the swim team; #2 is even an All-Star swimmer) which I think is super important since we live on a lake. So, where does the stereotype that black people can’t swim come from? History and reality I think. Lack of historical opportunity based on socioeconomic factors followed by cultural norms have probably contributed to the issue. There just aren’t a lot of pools in the areas African Americans disproportionately inhabit based on their socioeconomic status. And the hair thing. Totally it’s an issue. Learn more from Black Folk Don’t (awesome series on stereotypes).
2. Black people can be racist and prejudice and discriminatory too. Not THIS black person, but some black people. Anyone can be a hater;, doesn’t really matter what color you are.
3. Black history is American history. I always tell people if you don’t know “black history” then you really can’t say you know American history. It’s just part of the makeup of this nation. And, I’m not talking about just slavery here. Everyone knows about slavery; there’s more to it than that.
4. We do believe racism continues in today’s world. Because. It. Does. Sadly, even my children have experienced racism. Be uncomfortable with it if you want. As a matter of fact, please do be uncomfortable with it. Racism is uncomfortable. And, if it isn’t you’re probably a racist. Racism of today may look different, it may sound different, it may even feel a little bit different, but the fact that it continues to exist in today’s American society makes it not all that different.
5. You can talk to me about black stuff. It’s cool. I talk to you about non-black stuff all day long. No big deal. Lemme give you a perfect example:
Random White Chick I Sorta Know (RW): You know, the girl? At the cafe? She works there? Heavy set, glasses, always at the register?
And I’m like, confused: “Ummmm, not sure, because that’s like everyone who works there.”
RW: “She’s got the big chest lady. Short hair? Glasses? Ugh, you know who I’m talking about, I know you do.”
Still not ringing a bell for me: “……..”
RW: “Ugh, Dude, she was there on Tuesday when we went? She totally waited on us.”
And then I’m all, “Ohhhhh, the black chick?!”
RW: Shakes head excitedly.
Holy freaking crap on a cracker, why didn’t you just say that? She’s literally the only one. It’s her most defining characteristic, right up there with her massive rack. I know she’s black, you know she’s black, the entire world of every human being knows she’s black. Just. Say. It. Because now? NOW, it’s awkward.
Don’t make it awkward.
If you’d like some real suggestions on great learning items to share with your kids, here are my recommendations:
- Watch 42. The Jackie Robinson movie. Perfect for older kids who also love sports.
- Read Ruby Bridges. Picture book about a black girl in a spelling bee. All ages.
- Read The Watson’s Go to Birmingham. Funny read that also covers some powerful historical moments in the Civil Right era. Great for kids in upper elementary and middle school.