Why Representation Matters

Parenthood Experiences

By: Ivory Bruinsma
Growing up, and well into my adult life, my dad coined the phrase “know your black history”.

As a kid, I really wasn’t concerned with knowing  all the black people who ever did anything. I knew enough; I knew Jackie Robinson, Rosa Parks, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X and of course Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I figured I pretty much had my bases covered and bonus there were a couple women thrown in there.

It wasn’t until social media opened, the doors and my eyes to seeing things I have never seen before that there are way more African Americans out there doing to big and amazing things. I felt robbed that I didn’t learn this stuff earlier. I should have listened to my dad, maybe he was right. See, I didn’t see a lot women who looked like me doing great things. From what I remember all I knew is that we danced in music videos. I had no clue that we were so much and that was and is so much more out there.

My dad passed a few weeks ago and I still hear his voice in my head, “know your black history.”So now I often tell myself and my children the same thing.

Here’s the deal my kids are only a quarter black and I want them to know more about their history. More than just slavery. I want to teach them about heroes and heroines that fought for their rights, those who changed the course of American history. One of the ways I teach my kids is by starting a representation wall.


It’s not that full yet. Right now it has a picture of my dad as a child and a picture of Africa with words “my black is beautiful.” Representation is an all year, every year thing but during this month I want to be as intentional as I can be with my kids and myself on why knowing our history is important.

So in teaching my kids I am making it simple. This month we will be exploring the lives of some of the greats and what they were like as children, what kinds of things that they did and what life looked. We will venturing out to local events surrounding black history and diving into coloring books and cartoons with People of color. I want my kids who look more like their dad to know that their blackness matters and that it’s important and something to be celebrated. I want my kids to grow up knowing where they came from and that it is worth knowing.
Do you have things that you and your family do during black history month?

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