The conversation of race and social justice is so important, especially now. I have found it tricky to navigate at times because I don’t want to talk about it just to say “We’ve talked about it.” I want it to be impactful. I want them to find meaning in it for themselves, not because I said so.
We’ve had some unfortunate experiences in our community, but our kids got to see my husband and I stand up for what’s right and not back down simply because we were outnumbered. We supported and stood up for a friend and that meant going against people we previously considered friends.
Lately I’ve been wanting to watch “Harriet”, but I wanted to see it with my kids. I had put it off because frankly, I knew it would be heavy. We haven’t watched anything this heavy with our 10 year old, but after considering her being exposed to the N word and likely a lot of violence, I figured the Marvel Universe franchise that we watched last summer was far worse. Also, it seemed pretty illogical to worry about exposing my kid to racism and language that other kids of color had to experience first hand.
I’m so glad we watched it. It brought up so many conversations and observations that no history book could compare to. Even now I find it hard to write publicly about this topic because race is hard to talk about freely. It’s a complicated and dangerous conversation. There are so many pitfalls, and so many Karens. It is so easy to offend people and make trouble for yourself, but this is important. I have few friends of color, and diversity in my area is lacking greatly. I want my kids to know that everyone looks different for many many reasons. My kids know that skin color is just that. It is not a reason for judgement. But it is so very important to raise allies for other communities. How do you do that in a school district that is quite possibly 95% white?
A secondary conversation we had related to Harriet was the rights of women in general. My son was curious about this and I found myself explaining that we are STILL fighting for equality as women. Sad but true.
Anyway, despite my son’s worry it would not be “entertaining because it’s not a funny movie” both kids enjoyed it and it depicted a world that my daughter could not get from a book. The conversations we had about it were important and I’m so glad I went with the uncomfortable option. Tonight my girl asked, “Are there other movies about important Black people?” “yes. Yes there are.” “Ok, but I want to learn about people other than Rosa Parks.” (She is currently doing a school project on Rosa Parks)
We started watching “The Help” tonight. I figured we needed to sprinkle in some levity if we’re going to keep this train rolling. Nothing is more entertaining than Minnie’s chocolate cream pie! (If you know, you know)
My hope is that Black History Month is a starting point for all of us in this family to continue learning about important historical figures who we never learned about in school. Not just Black leaders, but Native American people, Women, Pioneers and World-Changers. Not just February, but all the time. If you are on the fence about what to show your kids, I encourage you to have faith that the lessons and the learning will outweigh whatever it is you worry they will be exposed to. If we want the world to change, we have to raise allies who have courage and support to charge into the future.
Please comment with names of people, movies, books, stories of important historical figures of color you never learned about in school.