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Teaching Children About Heritage: Black History is American History

Yahosh Bonner is a recording artist, husband, and father of 3 based in Utah. 

In our home it is important that our children have heroes and leaders that they can identify with. When I say "identify with," I mean someone they look like. In school, too often the heroes we learn about are not people of color and these students are found wanting. We love sharing our heritage with our kids even though much of it is ‘boring’ or ‘hard to understand.' However, our kids learn 365 days a year where they come from. We have a collection of books that feature black heroes in American History. Through reading these stories, our children learn about a variety of people who have contributed to the life they are free to experience now. As a people, we love truth! We want the full story. Unfortunately, the full story is not what we get in our schools and many times not even from our own parents. As in the musical ‘Hamilton,’ it says, ‘We have no control who lives who dies or who tells your story.’ However, we have a lot of responsibility to tell the stories of those who have come before us. We tell our children the stories of their black heritage year round because we feel that responsibility.

A few of our kids are at the ages (3 and 7) where they retain more information and are starting to understand concepts such as equality, family history, and prejudice. They remember names and stories as we tell them. Black History Month is such a special time in our home not because we do anything too different, but because we can now more openly share with friends about who we are and why we celebrate and look to different characters in history. We make it known to our kids that we love and appreciate those contributions made by our ancestors. We strive to honor them everyday. We honor them by the way we live so that we may teach the next generation how to treat people of all backgrounds. However, the most important is....we teach them that Black History month is a year round event.