10 Messages to fill children with Black Pride: Lessons from Family Learning Villages

10 Messages to fill children with Black Pride: Lessons from Family Learning Villages

Family Learning Villages News Parent Resources Uncategorized

I started the month of April off with a treat, as I had the opportunity to support VOW’s Family Learning Village (FLV) session on April 1st. During FLVs, parents come and meet with other parent co-conspirators to devise ways to protect their children’s Black Genius. The session started with an activity, called “Where I’m from,” borrowed from the amazing women at SpiritHouse. Families shared memories of their favorite smells, family traditions, and places where they felt most safe.

The conversation of the workshop evolved to a discussion on the negative messages that Black children are frequently exposed to in the media and many times even at school. Our parents (and protectors of Black Genius) then highlighted the amazing messages they share with their children to fill them with pride and positive feelings related to their Black identity. And I heard this powerful takeaway – if we fill our children with positive messages about Blackness, then our children won’t have the space to carry the negative messages and will have the ability to combat them. Protecting Black Genius indeed.

Here are our favorite ten positive messages about Black people that parents promised to share with their children.

1) Black people are trendsetters just look at the dope things we do with our hair & clothes.

Cranes in the Sky’ is a pretty swaggy video. Parents take a look first before sharing with your little ones. 


2) Black people are Intuitive/Innovative

Dr. Hadiyah Nicole-Green is using lasers to zap cancer. Read more about that here. 


3) Black people often become leaders in our youth many times demonstrating wisdom far beyond our age

John Lewis was the youngest speaker at the March on Washington, at the age of 23. Find out more about his amazing career. 


4) There is an unbreakable joy that lies within Black people

Read more about the Black Joy Project. 


5) Black people are graceful even in the face of oppression

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speaks at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 25, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Watch the 1st Lady’s Iconic “When they go low we go high” speech


6) Black people stick together and we love our community

It’s always a good time to watch the timeless “Summertime” video.


7) Black folk are resilient and we just don’t quit.

Read about how Bree Newsome snatched a symbol of hate from the South Carolina sky.


8) Black folk find amazing ways to make something out of nothing


Watch Jeghetto one of Durham’s finest make the dopest puppets you’ve ever seen.


9) Black people are bold/brave

Jonathan Bachman/Reuters

Learn more about Ieshia Evans and the source of her fearlessness. 


10) Black people are beautiful. We are beautiful.

Photography by Pamela Thompson for The Beautiful Project

The Beautiful Project creates spaces for Black women and girls to confront the mass misrepresentation of their likeness in the media. Read about their powerful “Sisterhood Storytelling” series here.


#VOW2Discuss Parent Highlight – “I thought we were White?”

#VOW2Discuss Parent Highlight – “I thought we were White?”

#VOW2Discuss Parent Awards Parent Resources

We sat down and had a great conversation with a father in Durham who told us all about his approach to talking to his children about race which seems best described as “seize the moment.”  Check out the gems this father shared with us below!

Generally, how do you talk to your kids about race? For Hank, every opportunity is a learning opportunity. Whenever a race-centric issue comes up in the media, he sees it as a time to discuss race with his children. He is particularly careful to gain their perspective saying :

“It is important for me to understand how they are processing the information without me initially creating a bias by identifying how I feel about a story or situation.”

Learning where the kids are at in their thinking makes navigating the issue a bit clearer.

What questions about race have your children asked that you weren’t prepared for?

Scan 1Hank is generally prepared for the questions his kids ask but had a pretty particularly challenging moment when his children were small. Eavesdropping on a conversation, he learned that they were a bit confused about racial identity. Hank’s wife and children are all fair skinned. In listening to the children talk, it became apparent to Hank that his children thought of all people as black or white—based entirely on skin tone. They thought of themselves as “white” and their dad as “brown”. It was a sticky moment. Says Hank:

“I wanted them to have black pride, but not create any ideology that would disrupt the diversity that was their world in elementary school […]I wanted that to be very clear to them, however, I wanted them to be able to get out of my car at school that morning and still have the same friends they had the day before. ”

He used the opportunity to explain the legacy and complexity of the history of race in the United States and where the family would have fit in, despite their skin color.

What do you think is most important for your kids to know about race /Why do you think it’s necessary that your child find confidence in being Black?

Hank thinks it’s most important for his kids to know that there is a legacy of excellence and success in Black communities. Early on he decided that he “wanted his children to have pride in themselves and the African-American race and to be able to have confidence in their place in the world”. At home, it is important to Hank that his kids are exposed to Black literature and film filled with positive images of Black people.

For Hank, his children’s confidence in their Blackness is important because:

“If they are not confident in who they are, they risk the danger of having someone else define who they are. […] I do not want them to replace white supremacy thinking with black supremacy thinking. I want them to look at themselves as a part of a diverse and broad society. An important part. They will need that confidence to succeed in a challenging world.“

What would you tell other parents to convince them to have conversations about building their child’s racial identity or racial confidence?

Hank says that raising smart, racially proud children benefits not only your children, but society as a whole. He is convinced that:

“ when you build your child’s racial identity and racial confidence it makes them better and nicer people. I do not want my children to be bullies or be bullied. I think these conversations contribute to those outcomes.”

Tell us about a moment when you know you made the right decisions about having the tough conversation with your child about race?

Hank talked about tragedies over the last few years including the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others. He used these cases to assess his children’s feelings about race and racism in America. He knows that it’s right to talk about these things because he learns as much about the younger generation’s perspective and has the opportunity to share something with his kids. Children are impressionable and surveying his own keeps Hank, “on his toes and forces [him] to be sharp in how he communicates with them.”

#VOW2Discuss Parent Guide Vol. 1

#VOW2Discuss Parent Guide Vol. 1

Parent Resources

We are extremely excited to share the first in a series of parent guides for caregivers of Black youth looking to instill the racial and cultural confidence their children need to maintain a positive self-image, as well as navigate and disrupt racism. Our first parent guide as you will see encourages parents to engage in Cultural Pride Reinforcement (CPR). CPR is a term renowned scholar Howard Stevenson coined to describe the process when parents encourage children to take great honor and dignity in their cultural heritage.  This guide is not a prescriptive document, but rather a prompting nudge offering information to parents who are looking for ways to have the potentially challenging but incredibly necessary conversations about race with their children.

Without further ado please check out the #VOW2Discuss Guide Vol. 1. If you find the guide particularly dope, then please tell us about it in the comments below.

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