Black History 365 includes originally composed music by Grammy-nominated producer Dr. Kevin “Khao” Cates, who has worked with notables such as Jay-Z, the late Nipsey Hustle, and Ludacris. This snippet of video is from a webcast about the project.
Dr. Walter Milton, Jr., remembers the shame he felt back in elementary school when his teacher announced to the class that they were going to learn about Black history and then started with slavery. He said he wanted to hide under the table. But later when he returned home that night, he also remembers the impact his parents had on his spirit when they explained that African Americans are descendants of ancient kings and queens. Dr. Milton and his partner, Dr. Joel Freeman, want other children to have that same impactful, eye-opening experience about Black history and that’s why they created the Black History 365 education curriculum.
“We want to give the students this whole experience about the Moors, the hunting, fishing, gathering, agriculture, all these different aspects how the civilizations began throughout ancient Africa,” said Dr. Freeman, who has included his personal photo collection of artifacts from Africa in the curriculum. “So, there’s images from the collection, where I’ve had people of African descent say, ‘Wow, I almost feel like I’m in that picture. I see my ancestors. I see myself there.’”
Both Milton and Freeman have strong educational and professional bonafides to take on a mission of bringing Black history to life in an innovative and technological way that will capture the heart and spirit of a new generation. Milton served as a school superintendent for twelve years in the states of New York, Michigan, and Illinois, and he taught at several universities across the United States. He’s also published several books addressing issues related to Black parents, schools, and education. Freeman served as player development mentor and character coach for the Washington Bullets/Wizards For 20 NBA seasons. He has also worked with the Association of International Schools for Africa (AISA), traveling extensively throughout the continent of Africa and conducting a number of training events for educators, government, and business leaders. Genuine documents and artifacts from Dr. Freeman’s personal collection have been showcased in exhibitions at the United Nations, White House, and Clinton Presidential Library.
“I met Joel when I was a superintendent back in Springfield, Illinois,” said Milton, adding that a friend of his insisted that he’d have a lot to talk about with the historian, who he called a “brother, but not a brother.” Milton was perplexed. “He’s a white guy? I said, okay, a white guy with Black history. No problem. So Joel and I met each other and the rest is history. He was one of the first persons that I called to start this project,” said Milton.
A Peek Inside Black History 365
When you first see the Black History 365 curriculum book, it looks like any other textbook. But take a peek inside and that’s where the ordinary becomes extraordinary. The artifacts from Dr. Freeman’s collection are sprinkled throughout the beautifully designed schoolbook, which begins with a chapter on Ancient Africa and ends with George Floyd. Students can scan QR codes with their smart phones that lead to originally composed music by Grammy-nominated producer Dr. Kevin “Khao” Cates, who has worked with notables such as Jay-Z, the late Nipsey Hustle, and Ludacris. Cates has a doctorate in education and through his own educational program called Bridging Da Gap, he has produced more than 600 songs for K-12 grade levels. The music is meant to engage listeners, but the QR codes also link to relevant people and places related to the subject matter. The eBook version of the book will have music and videos embedded right in it, no WIFI needed. An app is in development, too, as a way to integrate current events.
“Everyone around the country who downloads the app will get a spritz of information every morning. And then it creates this technological ecosystem where a teacher can start a class with that,” said Dr. Freeman. “Hey guys, what did you think about what you saw this morning…at the dinner table…in the grocery store? Whatever it might be, it can be sparked with these conversations.”
That said, the opportunity to bring in conversations is already a staple in the book. The “Elephant Experience” is a sidebar area to the core content of the text. It represents an opportunity to talk about hot topics that are often not so easy to discuss. In other words, the “elephant in the room.” The co-founders wanted to provide a resource that would invite students, educators, parents, and anyone else who engages with the material to become critical thinkers, compassionate listeners, fact-based and respectful communicators, and action-oriented people with solutions.
“One of the things we wanted to do with this elephant experience is deal with topics like three fifths of the human being and reparations. What about tearing down statues? And are we in a post-racial society since we had a Black president for two terms? Did Africans sell Africans into slavery? Topics that people butt heads about or talk past each other or just unfriend each other on Facebook,” said Dr. Freeman.
The Black History 365 project has expanded beyond the talents of Dr. Milton, Dr. Freeman, and Dr. Cates. The team now includes 30 additional expert educators, trainers, and instructors. Eager readers will have to wait until August to receive the curriculum, but you can pre-order it for $175 at BlackHistory365education.com.
Protesters in Nashville hold up “I can’t breathe” signs, in memory of George Floyd, on Saturday, May 30. RNS photo by Bob Smietana
On Pentecost Sunday, after a night of unrest that swept the country in the wake of the brutal death of George Floyd at the hands of police, the Rev. William J. Barber II delivered what he called “a pastoral letter to America” urging that leaders hear — and heed — the calls for justice from blacks and other minorities.
Barber, a North Carolina Disciples of Christ pastor and co-leader of the Poor People’s Campaign, said Pentecost, which commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit on Jesus’ apostles, is a time of discernment.
Floyd’s May 25 death is a moment when Americans ought to wake up to the ways systemic racism is “choking the life out of American democracy,” he said. He urged immediate reforms to make America more just, including universal health care, a living wage, sick leave and affordable housing — part of the platform he has long championed with his Poor People’s Campaign.
Speaking from the pulpit of an empty Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Barber delivered a 40-minute message to cameras, connecting the death of the unarmed 46-year-old African American man from Minneapolis to the
The Rev. William Barber II, co-founder of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, speaks on Feb. 4, 2020, at the Congressional Black Caucus’ 2020 National Black Leadership Summit in Washington. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks
COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately killed African Americans and led to widespread unemployment and economic hardship.
“More than 100,000 people have said, ‘I can’t breathe,’ as this disease choked them to death,” Barber said, linking Floyd’s last words as he lay dying while a white police officer pinned him to the ground and pressed his knee to his neck.
Over the weekend, images of Floyd’s death captured on video sparked anger, protests and vandalism as clashes have erupted between the police and protesters in dozens of cities.
Barber said the image of the police officer with his knee to Floyd’s neck reminded him of game hunters posing in photos kneeling on their prey, triumphant in their success.
Over and over, he returned to the metaphor of gasping for air in referring to the protests that have wracked the country, describing them as “the inevitable reflex of a people who cannot breathe because their life is being systematically snuffed out.”
Barber urged prosecutors to file charges not only against the officer who directly caused Floyd’s death, but the other officers who stood by and watched.
But more urgently he reminded political leaders that moments of crisis require structural changes — such as those that ended slavery, gave women the right to vote and extended voting rights to African Americans.
He ended his talk urging elected officials to take the time to see and listen to the people’s cries rather than urge a quick return to order.
“We cannot try to hurry up and put the screams and the tears and the hurt back in the bottle, just to get back to some normal that was abnormal in the first place,” Barber said. “Hear the screams. Feel the tears. The very people rejected over and over again are the ones who have shown us the possibility of a more perfect nation. They are telling us these wounds are too much. This death is too much.
“If we listen to America, if we listen, then now is the time for us not to stop mourning, but to mourn and refuse to be comforted, to unite our collective moral power and demand transformative change right now.”
“While he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him …” (Luke 24:30-31).
One of the most challenging things for me to adapt to while living in another culture has been making food for my housemates. I love to cook and try different recipes, but in a new environment, I found myself anxious about whether the sisters I live with would be open to my eclectic, mostly vegetarian cooking style in a house of enthusiastic carnivores. My Spanish seemed to turn to mush when I tried to navigate the bustling market-style grocery and the intimidating meat counter waiting system. At the beginning, I observed and tried to mimic some of the foods my housemates made. My guacamole never came out quite like theirs.
The pancakes Sr. Tracey Horan made the morning her grandma died (Provided photo)
Slowly, I started incorporating some of my tried and true recipes — Mom’s tuna noodle casserole, my favorite quinoa salad, pancakes on Sunday morning like my dad used to make.
With these familiar recipes always flowed memories and stories. I would apologize for making such a large quantity of tuna casserole — my mom’s recipe was always made to feed seven. Dishing out the quinoa salad, I remembered how my Sister of Providence friends and I would make wraps out of it to pack for a day hike in Southern Indiana. Pulling a homemade pizza out of the oven, I would regale my housemates with the story of the first time I tried to make whole wheat pizza crust when I lived in El Paso, Texas, and how it turned out so hard we joked about using it as a paperweight or a doorstop.
The sisters I live with are fabulous cooks, and as we’ve gotten to know each other, they’ve shared more and more about the foods they eat back home with their families. And always memories and stories follow.
I marvel at how smells, tastes and combinations of ingredients connect us so intimately with people and places from the past. They help us remember.
I yearned for this sense of connection last month when my paternal grandma became ill and then died of COVID-19. The morning I got the news and knew there would be no way for me to travel to Indiana — much less the chance for all of our large family to gather during a pandemic — I was desperate for something familiar.
As I rummaged in the kitchen that morning, I remembered my dad telling us about the big pot of oatmeal Grandma would make for all 10 of her children. I could picture my aunts and uncles gathered around her table. In my mind, I looked around Grandma’s kitchen and could almost pinpoint where each famous recipe from each family would sit for our holiday pitch-ins growing up. Grandma’s chicken and noodles always had a prominent spot.
I remembered where Grandma’s garden sat in her yard and a conversation we had once about her green bean crop that year. Pleased with herself but in her humble, steady way, she shared how she had harvested so many that she had bags of green beans in the fridge to last her through the winter.
That morning I couldn’t find any green beans, and it was too hot for oatmeal. So, I settled on making pancakes in honor of my dad, who had lost his mother that day.
We all have foods and recipes that connect us to our roots — to who we are and the relationships that have shaped us. Given this connectedness, it’s no surprise that so many pivotal moments in the Christian Scriptures revolve around food.
Jesus’ first miracle was performed at a wedding feast. As they celebrated their Passover meal together, Jesus and his followers had a serious conversation about the fate that awaited him. And he told them he would be given over as bread and wine for them: as food to sustain them, body and soul. Jesus taught his disciples about radical abundance as they fed 5,000 people together. Then on the road to Emmaus, two of his friends finally recognized their resurrected rabbi in the breaking of the bread.
Food — its smell, taste and texture — has a way of connecting us to our own humanity and etching memories on our hearts. Inherent in the process of making food is a death and resurrection: a plant or an animal has given its life for our nourishment, and our bodies transform this gift into new energy.
This moment in time has forced many of us to dig deep into the things and people that ground us. We are desperate for a familiar recipe — a set of ingredients that might nourish us the way they did in the past.
The hard truth is that no number of pancakes thrown on the griddle would allow me to hug my dad and tell him in person how sorry I am that he lost his mom and didn’t get to say goodbye. No number of virtual gatherings can replace real embraces and in-person laughter. And although Jesus’ followers did break bread with him again after he was sentenced to death, they all knew it would never be the same.
In this moment, we’re all making up recipes as we go, mostly from scratch. We’re throwing together pieces of relationality and encounter and praying, trusting that God will make them enough; that the final product will come out edible, will nourish us even if we’ve never made it that way before. And sometimes we’re smiling at each other between bites, with a knowing look that the toast is burnt or the rice wasn’t fully cooked or you should have waited one more minute before flipping that pancake. And it’s okay.
As people of faith, our belief in a God of transformation and possibility tells us that both hurt and hope are OK and real. We can both feel the helplessness of this moment and continue digging deep to discern what a worldwide pandemic asks of us. We can both mourn the loss of loved ones and be present to those still here who are suffering. We can feel the pain of separation and continue to decide each day to self-isolate out of care for the most vulnerable among us.
In living this hurt and hope, the bread of our lives is broken, but that means there are more pieces to share. And in that breaking, we find new recipes that we may someday remember and even pass down. We nourish one another in ways we never thought possible.
Stefan Lallinger had just finished teaching a lesson that traced the fight for civil rights and school integration in the U.S. when a student in his New Orleans classroom posed a question: “So, why do no white kids go to our school?”
Decades after Lallinger’s own grandfather had helped argue the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in front of the Supreme Court, which declared that segregated schools were unconstitutional, he said the boy’s question left him speechless — and still demands an answer today.
“I think as a country, more broadly, we don’t have a satisfactory answer to that,” Lallinger said.
The collaborative seeks to fill the gap between research showing more diverse schools can improve outcomes for all students, and the political will to pursue integration. To do that, Lallinger hopes to bring together advocates and policy makers who rarely work together — from charter and district schools, and housing — to learn from successful integration efforts across the country.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the collaborative has delayed plans for meeting in person, but is still laying foundations for the inaugural class of about 50. Applications are expected to open this fall.
Lallinger spent about a decade teaching and leading a New Orleans charter school post-Katrina, in classrooms where virtually every student was black and came from low-income homes. For the last year, he was a Harvard doctoral resident working in the New York City education department on integration issues.
Here’s what Lallinger had to say about what’s still standing in the way of more diverse schools, and what integration should look like in 2020.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How would you describe the status of school integration right now?
We know that integration is good for kids and there’s tons of research that backs this up. Yet most people across the country don’t know about that research. In part, because folks don’t know about this — and also because of many, many historical reasons — the state of our public schools continues to be segregated.
Nationally, about a fifth of schools across the country have almost no white children. That is to say, they are 90% or greater students of color. And then another fifth of our schools nationally have almost no students of color. So their student bodies are about 90% or greater white.
There’s other data that shows that the percentage of American schools that are intensely segregated along both racial and socioeconomic lines has actually increased over the last two decades.
So we’re not headed in the right direction, coming up on the 66th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education.
What kinds of bridges does this collaborative seek to build? Who or what needs to be brought together to advance school integration?
Ultimately, the goal is to build bridges across lines of difference in our schools and in our classrooms, creating environments in which children who come from different backgrounds have the opportunity to learn together. I don’t think we need to look any further than the state of our country today to see why that is needed.
If that’s not good enough, then there’s research to demonstrate that students who go to integrated schools are much less likely to harbor bias, they’re much likelier to have higher average test scores, much likelier to enroll in college.
Our collaborative is also looking to build bridges across sectors. We’re bringing together folks from school districts, from charter schools, and from fair housing organizations. We want to provide a space for folks to be able to have the difficult conversations and engage in the type of collaboration that is actually going to move the needle in communities across the country.
What is getting in the way of that collaboration now?
To start with, charter and traditional school districts, the way things have been set up structurally, there’s often either competition or distrust.
Then, to bring in the housing folks — oftentimes folks who work in housing and folks who work in education speak in different languages. Getting them on the same page to truly understand what the barriers are that each set of folks face is a feat.
Your grandfather, Louis Redding, was a civil rights lawyer who played a role in the landmark school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education. How is your personal history connected to your current work?
I always start with my grandfather, a man who was born in 1901 and whose grandmother was a slave. Despite that, he attended Brown University and was one of few African Americans at the time. He decided to move to the South after graduating and went to teach at a school created by freedmen after the Civil War to serve children of emancipated slaves. Then he went to Harvard Law school, where he was one of the first African American graduates of that institution, and decided that he wanted to move back to his home state of Delaware to practice law.
In 1952, he brought two lawsuits against local districts in Delaware, which he won, forcing them to admit black students. When those cases were appealed, they became a part of Brown vs. Board.
I often think about my grandfather and wonder, if he were alive, if he came to tour the school where I was a principal and saw all the amazing things, how proud he would be — and then wonder how long it would take him to realize he was walking the halls of a segregated school, and what he would think about that decades after he won this legal battle.
Why do you think integration should remain a goal of American schools, all these years later?
In the divided society that we live in, research also demonstrates that attending a diverse school helps reduce bias and counter stereotypes. For many of us, this is the most divided any of us have seen our country in our living history, and this is one way we can address that for the future.
Thirdly, this is something that will improve outcomes for students.
How can policymakers begin to overcome skepticism of integration — whether due to racism, from more affluent and white families worried about losing access to ‘good’ schools, or from families of color afraid of sending their children into hostile environments?
Folks by and large don’t have the vision for what a truly integrated school is, and therefore don’t truly know why it’s the best option for all of our students. Additionally, I think a lot of people fall prey to old and stale arguments, and fear mongering tactics.
It’s incumbent on folks who really believe in this issue to make clear, through appropriate communication and messaging, how we might do this in 2020 that’s different than 1960 and 1970, why it’s worth doing, what are the benefits that all students get — that it’s not some social justice crusade on behalf of one group of students, but that it’s truly beneficial to all students.
We have gotten to a place where, when we look at segregated schools, we’ve tricked our minds to think that is a natural phenomenon. That is absolutely not a natural phenomenon. There are specific reasons, and specific actions, and choices that have been made throughout the course of history that have made us believe that this is normal.
How are today’s integration efforts any different from the past?
Matthew Delmont has a great book that talks about the history of busing in this country and the use of ‘busing’ as a phrase, just as a fear-mongering tactic — when in fact, students have been bused in this country for decades with few ill effects. Ironically, busing really came into vogue in the era of segregation when white families needed to go to school farther from where they lived.
These are the things that come to people’s mind when, in reality, there are so many innovative ways to think about how we might get a diverse set of bodies into schools.
The things I’m talking about include reexamining district lines that mostly have been drawn specifically for the purpose of segregation, number one. Number two: being more creative about where we place sites for new schools.
Number three: developing innovative programming in schools that might attract different types of populations. Number four: identifying very closely systems of tracking that segregate children within schools. Number five: developing magnet programming and specialized programming that allow students to attend schools away from where they live.
And number six: opening up school choice in the public system, and, in places where choice exists, coming up with innovative enrollment mechanisms that promote diversity.
What will success look like for the Collaborative?
We want districts, and charter schools, and housing folks around the country to see examples of districts and schools advancing the issue in ways that make sense, and in ways that bear fruit, in a way that makes it feel safe for them to try.
To get a little more specific on some of the tangible things that we will be doing, we have engaged with a reputable polling and messaging firm to help us tackle this issue of how do you develop messaging that is compelling and gets across all of the benefits of diverse schools.
In New York City, one of the country’s most segregated school systems, there has been growing local support for integration, but few systemic changes. Why?
One of the things that needs to happen more is a clear articulation of why creating integrated schools in New York City is a strategy for improving our schools. You can’t really define an excellent school without answering the question of how diverse the school is, because a key element of excellence is what kids are learning from one another.
What does integration look like in a system like New York City, where most students are black or Hispanic and come from low-income families?
We have to think of integration more expansively than just black and white, and low income and not low income. New York City is one of the most diverse cities in the world, and it’s not just because you’ve got a lot of white folks and black folks living together. There’s a lot of beautiful and rich diversity within a lot of these blanket categories we use.
There’s a huge difference between a family of four that has a household income of $35,000, and a family of four that relies on public assistance, or a family that has students in temporary housing.
For race, there are schools that are reported as having 95% of their population being black or Latino, and you have Dominican populations, and Puerto Rican populations, and you’ve got Mexican students and you’ve got students from the Caribbean. We need to think more expansively about that.
The last thing I would say is that, what I think a lot of folks who bring up that argument are getting at is that, if we think of integration as necessarily involving a critical mass of white students, that integration of the entire city is then mathematically impossible. Well, that doesn’t mean that any action is futile. It means we need to start by integrating the spaces where we can and those spaces will become richer and better environments because of it.
How has COVID-19 changed or shaped this effort?
I definitely think that COVID-19 has shone a light on the rampant inequities that exist in our system. Some folks have adapted really easily to digital learning, mainly due to their environmental circumstances, and other folks have had a really, really hard time. At a time when these inequities are laid bare and there’s an opportunity to rethink the way we do things, I think the collaborative becomes even more important.
One of the things that we do want to make sure folks think about is that, during this time of social distancing, numerous parents and children have talked about how important the social aspect of schooling is, and how much they get from the interactions they have day to day with folks. Even when folks are not socially distant, where kids are in close proximity in the classroom, there’s so much that they are missing out from when they attend schools that are homogenous. Everybody’s experience would be so much richer if they attended schools with a vast array of beautiful diversity of students.
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.
In Genesis 4, Cain kills his brother Abel out of anger and jealousy. He lured his sibling out into a field and murdered him. Then God confronts Cain and asks him where his brother is. Cain indignantly answers with a question that reverberates down through the millennia, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”
In our day in Brunswick, Georgia, two white men saw a black man, Ahmaud Arbery, out for a jog and thought the worst. They waited for him, confronted him and killed him, proving what many know and what many try to deny: white people don’t serve as their brother’s keeper but, often, as their brother’s controller.
The Hebrew word for “keeper”(שׁמר) can mean to guard or protect. To “keep” one’s brother, or more broadly, one’s neighbor, means to look out for their well-being. It means to stand alongside them as an advocate when they face difficulties and dehumanization. It means to express tangible solidarity as a sign that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.
The system of white supremacy corrupts the relationship between white people and people of color. Instead of keeping their black brothers or sisters, white people seek to control them. It is a short journey from controlling black bodies to killing them.
The alleged murder happened Feb. 23 when Arbery ran past two white men, a father-son duo named Gregory and Travis McMichael, in the Satilla Shores neighborhood of Brunswick, a small town near the Georgia coast. They reflexively assumed that Arbery was the man responsible for a string of burglaries in the area even though no such crimes had been reported in weeks. One grabbed a shotgun, another picked up a pistol, and they pursued.
Ahmaud Arbery, in an undated family photo. Courtesy photo
The video shows Arbery jogging down the street as a white pickup truck blocks his path. The younger McMichael stands outside the truck with his shotgun. As Arbery approaches, shouts are heard, and an altercation occurs. Three shotgun blasts later, Arbery collapses to the ground.
The video emerged on May 5 and immediately sparked outrage. Within two days, the McMichaels had been arrested, after walking around free for more than two months.
What would make two ordinary citizens think they needed to take it upon themselves to get guns and pursue a black person out for a jog? If they suspected a crime had occurred, why not let law enforcement handle the situation? What role did race play in the entire scenario?
These questions all have echoes in the past. When it comes to controlling and policing black bodies, the history is as long as the nation itself.
In an article for Black Perspectives, historian Keri Leigh Merritt details the origins of professional policing in America. Prior to the Civil War, few towns had standing police forces. After the Civil War and emancipation, however, the white owner class still wanted cheap labor. They and many others wanted to re-entrench white supremacy.
White authorities devised vagrancy laws to ensnare black people in the criminal justice system. A black person could be arrested simply for not having proof of employment. Even more sinister, one did not have to be a police officer to enforce these rules.
As Merritt explained in her article, “the (vagrancy) statute deemed it lawful for ‘any person to arrest said vagrants,’ effectively giving all whites legal authority over blacks.”
This photo combo of images taken Thursday, May 7, 2020, and provided by the Glynn County Detention Center, in Georgia, show Gregory McMichael, left, and his son Travis McMichael. The two have been charged with murder in the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, whom they had pursued in a truck after spotting him running in their neighborhood. (Glynn County Detention Center via AP)
Laws crafted to entrap black people in the penal system simultaneously fostered a culture of suspicion and surveillance of black bodies. White people took it as their duty and right to regulate the movement of black bodies. They claimed all spaces as “white” spaces by default, and any person of color, especially a black person, had to justify their presence.
The same dynamics were at play when, eight years ago, George Zimmerman took it upon himself to pick up a gun and pursue a black 17-year-old named Trayvon Martin. This surveillance dynamic was at work when the manager of a Starbucks in Philadelphia called the police to remove Donte Robinson and Rashon Nelson while they waited for an acquaintance to arrive for a meeting.
The culture of policing black bodies was at work when a white student called the police on Lolade Siyonbola, a graduate student at Yale who had fallen asleep in her dorm’s common room. The idea that black people must be controlled in most spaces is behind a neighbor calling the police on 12-year old Reggie Fields for mowing a portion of the wrong lawn.
White supremacy has perverted God’s command in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis that human beings should “rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” Instead of ruling over the animals and plants as God directed, white supremacy leads people to try to rule over black people who are fellow image-bearers of God.
This culture of controlling black bodies means that just as the blood of Abel cries out from the ground for justice, so does the blood of Ahmaud cry out from Brunswick, Georgia. The blood of all the black people lynched to appease the idol of white supremacy cries out from the ground.
White people must learn, perhaps for the first time, what it means to “keep” rather than “control” their black brothers and sisters. No racial or ethnic group should have the power of life and death over another. Black bodies have been created in the likeness of God, yet our simple presence is deemed a threat to be controlled rather than a neighbor to be loved.
Only when white people learn that they are their brother and sister’s keeper rather than their controller will those cries finally be satisfied and at peace.
Bringing mindfulness to the challenges of children can help parents to better enjoy the precious early years
Parents can struggle to enjoy the present. Children fill parental minds with lists of things to do and challenges to overcome. Many mums and dads struggle to enjoy the moment they are in, even as they know this stage won’t last forever.
When we practice mindfulness, we tune our thoughts into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than living in the past or imagining the future. This simple-sounding approach has been shown to have many benefits. Psychological research suggesting it can relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
How to be a mindful parent
Imagine you are juggling the children’s homework with cooking the dinner. You are longing for that time of the evening where you can sit on the couch for a few hours before you go to sleep, and it all starts again.
If you can practice mindfulness and be in the “here and now”, rather than trying to multitask or get through your immense to-do list, you may find that you can enjoy even these routine daily tasks.
You might choose to sit down with your child while they’re doing homework and look at this as time for you to connect with them and give them your attention. You might also enjoy a cup of tea while being fully present with your child, taking the time to be there for them and for yourself. Following this, you can turn your attention fully to the task of cooking. But rather than rushing the process and being on auto-pilot, you may be better able to enjoy this task too: the smells, the creativity, and the enjoyment of making a nutritious meal for your family.
When my little ones used to ask me to read to them before bed, I would often skip a few pages to hurry the process. I was tired and desperately wanted to get some time for myself. Once child number four arrived, I became more aware of how fast the time goes. Now I am the one who starts story time and loves to sit with my little boy and smell his hair, feel his soft skin and touch his warm body. I now find these times to be a blessing and enjoy being in the moment. Reading no longer feels like a chore.
Practice makes perfect
Mindfulness improves with practice, and it can be challenging for those starting out. But while mindful parenting doesn’t magically make things easier, it can help us to get more enjoyment out of things we often take for granted. This in turn can give us more of that energy we so desperately need.