10 Ways to Celebrate Black History Month in Your Transracial Family

But during the month of February, be extra intentional about celebrating black history.

Natalie Brenner February 03, 2018

“The number one thing I wish I my parents understood when I was growing up was that my identity as a black girl mattered. I couldn’t just ignore the fact that I had dark skin, that my hair was textured, that people treated me differently. I couldn’t not see my color like they suggested. Because we never talked about it, because they always dismissed my experience, I grew up ashamed of my entire self. If my parents weren’t proud of my blackness, they couldn’t have been proud of me. So I didn’t like me.” -Transracial Adoptee (name withheld out of protection of herself and family)

As she shared this with me, her eyes were soft and her voice was kind. It felt sacred that she would share this not-so-little piece of her story with me.

She went on to explain what made her parents’ reasoning confusing was the fact they said “God’s will” was for them to not acknowledge her color, to ignore it, to treat her as though she was “white like them.” There are many layers to this that frustrate me, but in the end of our conversation, it was clear we shared our conclusion: God values color, God created color, God acknowledges and celebrates diversity.

Our son’s racial makeup is Black/White. Our commitment to learn about and celebrate black history goes far beyond one month of the year, as should yours. But during the month of February, we are extra intentional.

During the month of February, I am also hosting a series of Black Voices on my personal blog. Be sure to hop over there and don’t miss learning from them!

Here are some ways you can celebrate Black History Month as a transracial adoptive family:

Black leaders
1. Black leaders

Spend each week learning more and more about key black leaders.

Sure, most people are aware of Martin Luther King, but what most people get wrong about him is that he didn't protest or cause trouble. Dig deeper into Dr King’s life one week.

Study leaders such as: Rosa Parks, Malcom X, Harriet Tubman, Nelson Mandela, Booker T Washington, Nat Turner, President Barack Obama, and Jackie Robinson. There are many more, but here's a start.

Local events
2. Local events

I know for the Northwest, there aren’t a ton of events happening. BUT, if you dig deep and ask around and search the internet, even in Oregon there are events celebrating Black History Month. Look into community centers, libraries, and local Black churches. If they are not hosting events, they certainly should know of a few.

Bake
3. Bake

Sweet potato biscuits are a traditional soul food treat. Gather the kids, ask a friend or find a recipe, and bake some traditional soul food together.

Dr. King's Letter from Birmingham Jail
4. Dr. King's Letter from Birmingham Jail

Take a morning or afternoon to read through Dr King’s letter from the Birmingham jail. Process each line, mulling over the depths of his words and implications. Discuss how his words still ring true today — talk about ways we have grown as a nation, but also how we need to continue to grow and fight for justice.

The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow
5. The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow

Find and view an interactive timeline recording The Rise and Fall of Jim Crow.

Push, a novel, and “Precious,” the film
6. Push, a novel, and “Precious,” the film

Particularly for older kids, read through the novel Push and watch the movie “Precious.” Talk about the culture Precious grew up in as well as how she overcame adversity with education.

The Blues
7. The Blues

Listen to some Blues music and, together, create your own 12-bar blues music.

Famous Firsts
9. Famous Firsts

Study and discover who the famous firsts are in black history: doctors, surgeons, congress, tennis players, etc.

The Audacity of Hope
10. The Audacity of Hope

Read through President Obama’s The Audacity of Hope and talk about the great importance of his election, the first black president of the United States.

Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream”
11. Dr. King’s “I Have A Dream”

Take an afternoon to listen to Dr. King’s speech, I have a dream. Process each line, mulling over the depths of his words and implications. Discuss how his words still ring true today — talk about ways we have grown as a nation, but also how we need to continue to grow and fight for justice.

author image

Natalie Brenner

Natalie Brenner is wife to Loren and mom to two under two, living in Portland, Oregon. She is the best-selling author of This Undeserved Life. She likes her wine red, ice cream served by the pint, and conversations vulnerable. Natalie believes in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. She's addicted to honesty and believes grief is the avenue to wholeness. Natalie is a bookworm, a speaker, and a lover of fall. Connect with her at NatalieBrennerWrites.com and join her email community.


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