It is never to early to start celebrating diversity! Black History Month is the perfect time to take the opportunity to introduce your child to positive images of Black people. After a recent poll of my COLLEGE class, I found out that the only things they knew about Black History were:
a) Martin Luther King the Civil Rights Movement
c) The Harlem Renaissance
These are the main themes of Black history that are highlighted from kindergarten to 12th grade! Every year in school children and adolescents are bombarded with facts about Black people that portray them as a group of inferior people, who while they are strong, have contributed very little to society. Only focusing on this relatively recent and sad history of Black people does not do justice to the long and beautiful story of a group of people who changed America and the world as we know it. Also, focusing only on this part of Black history further feeds negative stereotypes about Black Americans as an inferior group.
In order to ensure that future generations have more positive attitudes about Black people, we should begin telling a positive story about their contribution to society to preschoolers. This past week, I conducted an activity for preschoolers on historic Black inventors who created products that they were familiar with:
a) George Washington Carver - peanut butter
b) Sarah Boone- the ironing board
c) George Crum - potato chips
d) Alexander Miles- elevator doors
e) Philip B Downing- the mailbox
f) Garrett Morgan - the traffic light
After naming the object and its use, the children were shown pictures of the inventors and shouted, "Thank you!". They were so eager to learn and excited to take home their learning-activity book (pictured above) on "African-Americans of Character." These 3-6 year-olds walked out of this 30 minute session knowing more about Black history than my college class. Activities like this will ensure that your child is aware of the positive contributions that Black people have made to society that are to be celebrated, and not just information about Black people being discriminated against.