It’s back to school time! A time where we watch our children thrive in their academics. It’s also a time where we worry about what could happen, with so much going on in the world. As parents, specifically African American parents, we should worry about what is not happening for our children day to day in the school system.

Inclusion.

Sixty-three years ago, Brown v. Board of Education held that separate schools for black and white students are inherently unequal. This helped with diversity in schools, yes; however, sixty-three years later, we still battle with inclusion. While diversity is prevalent (it’s what makes America the country that it is, afterall) diversity with the lack of inclusion is where the problem begins.

How can you ensure your child(ren) know they matter, in an education system that subtly shows them differently?

Teach them our history.

It is true that after preliminary education, children can elect to attend an HBCU, which helps tremendously with inclusion and in building up their self-confidence. Read my article about HBCU’s here. However, what do we do as parents when we can not send our children to predominantly black elementary, middle or high schools without compromising the quality of their education? We teach them ourselves.

As we all know, the American school system tends to not teach the truth about our history and heritage. It is important that they understand what truly happened in the past so that they can understand the true value of our ancestors and the sacrifices made.

Let their voice be heard.

Listening to your child let’s them know you value their concerns. It is important for them to know they can talk to you without judgment.

If you want your child to confide in you, it is important to let them know their voice matters. This helps your child to develop a sense of self and pride in their heritage.

Exclusion and its effects

Recently, I saw a video about why inclusion is important in technology. Soap dispensers that work for ‘white’ hands, didn’t easily read ‘black’ hands.

Out of Google’s 64,000 employees, only 2% in tech are black.*

We’ve seen the viral Pepsi video of Kendall Jenner ‘fighting crime’ with a Pepsi can, and I’m sure we all shook our heads in sync, silently whispering “If only someone of color was on the marketing team…”.

Imagine how this ‘exclusion’ has shaped the world around us?

It’s important that we let our children know their worth, especially in a world that constantly tries to strip them of it.

Inclusion helps children develop a positive understanding of themselves.

We’ve seen how important inclusion is during the #OscarsSoWhite rage. There’s so much diversity in Hollywood, yet, when it comes time to give actors and actresses of color their due, issues arise.

Girls Trip, a film produced by an HBCU grad, Will Packer, just broke the mold with more than 100 million dollars in sales.

Hidden Figures, a movie about Katherine Johnson, a black space engineer and math wiz who helped launch the first man into space, did AMAZING in the box office as well. Who knows how many young black girls saw that movie and had the realization that they, too can be smart, brave and BOLD?

Inclusion is important.

So let me ask you, what steps will you take to ensure that your child/children see a piece of themselves in the world around them this school year? As cliche as it sounds: It starts at home. It starts with the pride that we give our kids and how they see us interact and live our day to day lives. Maybe it’s a conversation with their teacher, maybe it’s what you feed their minds. If we are going to make a change, it begins with you.