Toward the Day when “Black History” is Simply “History”

Dear Families,

February is Black History Month! Of course, every month is Black History Month (and women’s history, Latino history, LBGTQI history, etc.), in that we know that all people throughout history and in current times have stories to be told and from which we can learn.  However, the stories of the historically (and currently) oppressed are not told with the same frequency and volume as the stories of others, so it can be useful to shine a light on a particular group of stories in order to ensure they are told at all!  Enter Black History Month.

As a school, it is our responsibility (as educators and people) to work hard to elevate the stories and experiences of people who are black during this month and ensure this continues throughout the year.  However, students also need to learn and hear about Black History Month at home and in discussion with their families in order to grasp its true importance. Let’s all work together throughout this month to find ways to highlight Black History in our lives.  Here are some resources that you may find useful:

General Resources:

Raising White Kids:Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America– book by Jennifer Harvey

Teaching Your Child about Black History Month– Website for Parents, PBS Kids

Why Parents Should Talk to Their Kids about Black History Month– On Parenting, from the Washington Post

Black History Month Books for All Ages– Scholastic

GRCDC’s Anti-Racist Book Club Books:

So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

How to Be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X Kendi

Families frequently ask me, “Is my child too young to talk about race?”  The short answer is, “No.” In our Reggio-inspired philosophy, we believe that children are whole and capable of handling complex ideas, cognitive struggle and big feelings.  In fact, our school’s core values of connection, inspiration, potential and equity call us to talk with our children about real history, current events, diversity, social justice, and our role in making our school and the world a better place.  Whether we talk to children about race or not, children notice race, they are talk about it, and they absorb messages from what we don’t say, just as much as what we do say.  

In the book How to Be an Anti-Racist, which we are reading for our staff and family book club, Ibram X Kendi writes, The opposite of racist isn’t ‘not racist.’ It is ‘anti-racist.’ What’s the difference? One endorses either the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist, or racial equality as an anti-racist. One either believes problems are rooted in groups of people, as a racist, or locates the roots of problems in power and policies, as an anti-racist. One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of ‘not racist.”  Given this, let’s allow February to push our anti-racist thinking and actions, so that eventually “black history” will simply be “history” and everyone’s experiences are recognized and shared every single month of the year.

Respectfully yours,

Lisa Heyne