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Black History Month

By Kayce Dallas, Kentucky Youth Advocates intern

February marks Black History Month, a tribute to African American men and women who have made significant contributions to America and the rest of the world. Familiar names like Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, and Barack Obama are often mentioned and celebrated.

Race equity has come to the forefront. As our society is grappling with how to ensure race equity and promote healing, many individuals, families, groups, and organizations are taking intentional steps to confront the systemic racism that plagues our communities.

One critical step we can take in promoting race equity as parents, caregivers, and/or professionals working with children is to have open discussions with the kids in our lives around race and racism. Children are never too young to learn about ending racism.  It’s also equally important to lift up Black voices and stories to drive change. We must celebrate Black achievement and reflect on the country’s past and present social justice issues.

While there is no “right” way to have meaningful conversations, below are some tips that may be helpful:

— Check-in with your child and acknowledge how they are feeling.
Do not assume you know how your child is feeling. Sometimes they may not know how to express their feelings. Ask questions like “How are you feeling about what we saw on the news?”
—Have open and honest conversations.
These types of conversations will probably not happen just once. Let your kids know this is something that is okay to talk about and that you are there when they need to talk.
—Encourage questions.
Be ready for questions. They might ask some difficult questions that you may not have the answer to and that is okay.
—Refer to resources.
When you have no idea how to respond, looking to your support system and finding helpful resources can be a great next step.

Helpful Resources:
• Check out these tips and resources from PBS KIDS to help you have a meaningful conversation with young children about race, racism, and being anti-racist.
• Nat Geo – African American Heros
• Visit the American Psychological Association’s resource page describing racial stress and self-care.
• KET – Black History Month
• The Oakland Library has curated a list of books to help talk to your children about racism and justice.
• For additional resources, such as books, activities, and media, visit Bounce Back Parenting.
• KET Education – Civil Rights Movement in Kentucky
Baxter’s Corner is a local organization that publishes books designed to enhance conversations between adults and children on a variety of topics that include bullying, manners, being different than others, single-parent families, respecting authority, and working with others. One of my favorites is Gerome’s Rainbow, a story about acceptance. 

We must understand that these conversations are critical and necessary as we raise the next generation to actively confront racial injustices and promote true race equity.

“Black History Month should be more than just a month of remembrance; it should be a tribute to our history and a reminder of the work that lies in the months and years ahead.” -anonymous

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