Looking back, I see a week that flew by and looking ahead I see a very busy month. I can’t go forward without looking back. Did I tend to all my business last week? Discover new items worth noting? Who did I not connect with last week? Looking back gives me reason to move forward. February reminds me to celebrate. Heck, in American most months give us reason to celebrate! February reminds me to take care of my heart: to eat for nutrition, to exercise and get regular check ups. And, it also reminds me to show some love and celebrate my heritage. Yes, I do these things all the time, but sometimes I have to accentuate my routines.
A colleague I’ve always admired, Vanessa Irvin Morris, does an insightful interview with Zetta Elliott. In it, Vanessa discusses the professional ethics of librarianship which requires us to meet our patrons’ needs rather than forcing our own agenda. Librarians and educators are being untrue to the basic philosophy of our professions when we deny the culture of those we serve. It’s a start to read a single book that brings diversity into our personal space, but we work to serve others, not just ourselves. We have to read and keep reading PoC selections. As educators, we can’t think that Black history begins with slavery and skips to Civil Rights. Teach about the Africans like Estevanico who led the Portuguese and Spanish explorers. Postulate about the possibility of ancient Egyptians in North America. Complete the teaching of the standards by accurately teaching what all people from African and Asia have contributed to the US, not just Europeans.
February is Black History month. This should be a time to celebrate what we’ve learned about history and obstacles we’ve overcome. If baby steps is all we’ve got, well at least we’ve got something! Use the list I’ve created of YA African American fiction and encourage teens and teachers to read a few contemporary works. Don’t just read an African American biography, create a meeting of the minds. Create opportunities for students of varied backgrounds to talk and work together. Encourage them to participate in activities throughout your community that celebrate African American history. Share your ideas here! I’d love to know what you’re doing. Ask where to find resources or get some suggestions on developing an idea. Feel free to post what you need, or send an email. Let this be the year you take one more step into fully celebrating America.