Celebrating Black History Month Abroad

Those that know me well know that I stay equipped with Black History facts and examples of current day Black excellence. My master’s degree is in African American Studies…it comes with the territory. Yet, I still enjoy having a month dedicated to my culture–a month when I can roll up looking like Angela Davis on a Wednesday and then rock an outfit from the Black Panther movie on a Saturday afternoon with nationally accepted reasoning *grabs jar of shea butter*.

This year my husband and I have decided to celebrate Black History Month as a family. This is a big deal and actually quite a project as Black History Month is an American celebration that we are trying to celebrate in the UAE with our children that attend British schools and nurseries. But if we don’t acknowledge it , our children won’t know that it exists.

As I’m having to celebrate from scratch, I’ve had to become a bit more creative with my integration of our history and culture. While we often talk about Black history and what it means to be Black, I still really want them to be aware of this month long celebration. So far, we’ve focused on a main career or hobby a day and then researched Black Americans that have contributed to that field. Today is only day four and my children have already learned a good bit. We researched Black American Astronauts yesterday as Benjamin said that he wants to be a rocket ship person when he grows up. From that, Mila has already requested to dress up as Mae Jemison for International Day at her and Aaron’s school at the end of this month. Our family’s black board calendar has Black History Month written, hugely, at the top and it includes Frederick Douglass’s birthday and the Black Panther’s movie release date. I decided against Abraham Lincoln’s birthday–but we will definitely discuss him when we talk about Carter G. Woodson. Mila’s show-and-tells this month will  highlight Black Americans and our culture through homemade posters and other visuals. Lastly, alongside Mila, Aaron will go dressed as either Spike Lee or President Barack Obama for International Day. We’ll talk about them both and then I’ll let him decide (though I’m secretly rooting for Spike but mainly because I think that Aaron would look super cute in huge frames and a flipped up hat).

I’m also relying on books and movies to celebrate this holiday. Books like “Look What Brown Can Do” written by T. Marie Harris and illustrated by Neda Ivanova and movies like “A Ballerina’s Tale” and “Garrett’s Gift” are on high on my list. Today Mila will start reading “June Peters You Will Change the World Some Day” written by Alika R. Turner and illustrated by Naafi N. Rohma just to sprinkle in a bit more Black Girl Magic for good measure.

If you have any other suggestions or a tried-and-true, I’d love to hear about it. Happy Black History Month to you all!

 

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “Celebrating Black History Month Abroad

  1. Respectfully So says:

    Loving it! Soooo, you have motivated me to do weekend projects with my children that end up as permanent displays in their room. We have always selected brown characters that look like us for all projects in school. My baby was Joseph on Egyptian day, seriously.

    All in all, I agree with taking on the responsibility of educating our children about our history 😉🇦🇪

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    • LaAisha says:

      I love that your baby was Joseph on Egyptian Day! Definitely something that I would have done ;). It’s can get a bit tricky raising 3rd culture kids but I can tell that you and I both agree that it’s worth the effort! Keep me posted about the weekend projects! Would love to try a few!

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  2. theRands says:

    Love it! We recently read (and reread, and reread) The Other Side. Ari loved it! I bought one of the Princess Truly books but it hasn’t arrived before we left for our break. I would love to get the I Am Rosa Parks book (and most from this series, really).
    At almost 5, Ari still doesn’t seem to notice race (I realize that’s privilege) and would notice the difference in clothes way before he notices the difference in skin color. He seems completely unaware of the fact that he is the only Caucasian kid both in his year and living on our campus. I struggle with not raising him colorblind on one hand but also not pushing him into something he isn’t ready for yet (which, I also realize, is privilege :().

    Liked by 1 person

    • LaAisha says:

      I think it’s awesome that you all are sharing cultures and happenings outside of your own with your children. That will make for some incredibly grounded and culturally sensitive people (as if your living all over the world wasn’t enough :).

      As far as my children noticing color…I had to teach them about race for 2 major reasons. 1. I am just like you in that I want my children to have some understanding of my culture and, in turn, their own. The difference is that my culture is based, majorly, on my race. That’s off-putting to some and confusing to others. I get that. It doesn’t change anything though. My worldview, beliefs, traditions, and practices are based a great deal on my skin color. This would not necessarily be the case if I were born somewhere else but I was born in America where everything was and is based off the color of my skin. Also, Black Americans do not have clear ancestry lines in which to tie our cultures to, so we have developed a culture reflective of our lives since being in America in which all of our experiences, as a people, have come about due to our skin color. So, my hands were tied as I knew that I could not teach my culture without teaching my race. 2. In response to your comment about privilege, I understand what you meant there. It was hard for me to read even though it is something that I’ve known—the existence of privilege and how it shapes us. However, acknowledging your privilege means that I also have to admit to my underprivilege-ness. As a Black American woman that’s a pill that I have always shallowed. It still leaves a residue of the sorts but goes down fairly easily. As a parent, on the other hand, it stings because it forced me to admit, out loud, that I also taught my children about their race and the race of others out of fear. Much like the sex talk, I couldn’t/ can’t risk someone else having that chat with my child before me- I can’t risk someone else shaping how they see themselves. So. I’m doing it first. I’m teaching self love because I have to. I’m on the defensive end and while I don’t like being there, I have to be honest about my position on the field and respond appropriately. Teaching your child about color would be more of an offensive move (especially if you were among others that looked like you), so our “needs “to teach about race are very different. I also, understand that your current surroundings don’t necessarily call for it—but yes, it does come down to our differences in culture and race. I will say though that while your are not teaching “color,” per se, you are teaching about the differences in culture and again, that it commendable and appreciated especially since you are teaching a part of American history that you could easily ignore as a multi-cultural/multi-national family. For me, that’s one way to work together to end racism and discrimination.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jenia says:

        Thank you. It’s all a learning process for me. You are right about being on the offensive. I want to teach my kids the right thing before they pick up any ideas from spending summers in Georgia, among other things.

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