Honoring Black History Month as a White Mom

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Black History Month - Martin Luther King Jr - Boston Moms

I reached adulthood without learning the skills to productively discuss race. I find it a source of embarrassment. Now, more than a decade into my adult life, I am still deep in the process of doing the work required to be a person who can discuss race openly and honestly.

I do not want to raise children who walk into their first job without an awareness of redlining or cultural appropriation or who think that the way they have always done things as a white person is the way other people should be doing them as well. 

In the past, my implicit bias has caused me to make hurtful assumptions and comments. While I am not proud of those moments, if I can’t be honest with my children about the lessons those situations taught me, I will be setting them up to repeat the same mistakes.

This year, I plan to honor Black History Month with my toddler and preschooler. When they are older, I hope I can take advantage of the programming at the Mary Baker Eddy library (ages 5+) in Boston or a storytelling event at the JFK Library (ages 5+). But since I haven’t found programming geared to the preschool set, we will celebrate on our own in simple ways. 

We’ll read books by black authors and/or with black protagonists. 

While we will seek out stories that honor black heroes, I also want to read books that feature daily routines with children and families who look different from ours. 

Some of our favorites are “Trombone Shorty by Troy Andrews and “The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.

If you are looking for more, check out these curated lists: 

We’ll talk. A lot. 

My 3-year-old is asking a lot of questions about how the world works, and questions about race aren’t far off. When he asks questions, I hope to give him honest answers about how race has been defined in our country. Though I hope not to make more mistakes discussing race, I am certain I will. I want him to see me respond to those mistakes with a growth mindset rather than shame. He, too, will make mistakes, and I need him to know that conversation is an opportunity for learning. 

Moms, what other tips do you have to celebrate Black History Month? I’d love to learn more.