Black History Month: Preserving Our Heritage

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Jayden is at the age where he is becoming increasingly aware of the differences amongst his peers. He has started noticing and inquiring about his friends with apricot and peach skin tones. He, like my husband when he was his age thought that Mommy and Baby were apricot as well. Cue the history and science lessons.

During a recent trip to the grocery store, a little apricot boy started chatting with Jayden and he said, “You’re brown and your little brother is brown too.” Jayden replied with, “He’s not brown, he’s apricot.” They continued chatting and somehow scheduled a playdate, only I was frantically trying to find the orzo while his mom nervously fumbled with her phone. Kids tend to say the darnedest things, so I was certainly wanting to skedaddle before things got really awkward and I’m sure she shared the same sentiment.

Jayden’s curiosity and the scene in the grocery store was a clear sign that it was time to start having more conversations about our heritage. Walmart is celebrating the beauty of African-American Heritage. They asked me how I preserve the beauty of mine, which served as inspiration for future activities and conversations with the boys. Here are a few things that we are doing to celebrate and preserve our heritage. I hope you find these resourceful and share how you preserve your heritage in the comments below.

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Food

Food plays a major role on my mom’s side of the family. At family gatherings, we enjoy a feast of soul food and other tasty southern dishes. Many of us have a signature dish that we bring to complement the host’s feast made from scratch, love… and the whole, entire foot. I’m currently trying to create a family cookbook to share with family and pass down to the boys. This is so important to me since there are quite a few family recipes that have gone missing. There are stories of Grandma’s yeast rolls and “so and so’s” yummilicious cake, but no recollection of any recipes. I’d love to get those memories circulating again.

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Photos

I take a ton of photos and I’m anal about documenting certain moments. It’s something my husband doesn’t understand probably because he has stacks of photos from his childhood and I have very few. I cherish the photos that I have of myself along with family photos from previous decades. Looking back at old family photos is so empowering. They keep memories alive. Photos remember what the mind cannot. Positive representations of black families are few and far between, making it so much more important to capture moments of love, achievements, and good times for our future generations.

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Books

Growing up, there were few books illustrated with characters that looked like me. Now, there are plenty of multicultural books that the boys can get lost in. There are even coloring books and sheets, although they take some digging to find. These books celebrate the boys’ brown skin and show that it’s okay to be different. I put together a growing Pinterest board of books with African-American characters and legends here. And because this month’s Presidents Day lessons at school were on Washington and Lincoln, I found and shared some sources for Obama coloring sheets.

Follow Sheena Tatum (Sophistishe.com)’s board KIDS // AFRICAN AMERICAN BOOKS on Pinterest.

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Hair

When I decided to start wearing my natural hair (free of chemical straighteners), I did so because I wanted to dare to be different and challenge myself. The dare and challenge continued when I decided to loc my hair. My natural hair journey evolved into a lesson of self-love and dismissal of society’s beauty standards.

This is a lesson that I am passing on to my BOYS… because it’s equally as important for them to love themselves as it is for girls. Afterall, loving others starts within self. Jayden feels special because he has hair like Mommy, only his is handsome. And although our skin tones aren’t the same, our hair is. By not buzzing the boys’ hair off every 2 weeks, they are celebrating the beauty of their heritage and uniqueness as intended. Indulge in the beauty of natural hair on my Pinterest board.

Follow Sheena Tatum (Sophistishe.com)’s board BEAUTY // NATURAL HAIR on Pinterest.

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How do you preserve the beauty of your heritage?

Join Walmart’s celebration of African-American beauty. What did beauty look like in your grandmother’s generation? Your mom’s? Yours? Share photos of your beautiful heritage on Instagram using the hashtags #MyBeautifulHeritage and #WalmartBeauty.

As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Sheena Tatum

is the founder of Sophistishe. She's a free spirit, wife, boy mom, rental rebel, curator of pretty things, lover of vintage pyrex, and the tropics. Sheena can be found in NW Indiana with her husband and two scrumptious boys, clutching kraft paper, chalkboard paint, sriracha and chipotle pepper. In the midst of motherhood, wifedom, and managing a growing collection of digital projects, she somehow manages to find zen in being a quirky, introverted, lil’ lady.

2 Comments

  • Reply February 21, 2014

    Shannon

    I think the fact that you’re indulging your children in their heritage is so amazing! Unfortunately, these days, the heritage & traditions of people get lost and people have no idea where they came from.

    • Reply February 22, 2014

      Sheena Tatum

      You’re speaking the truth. I can trace my family back to Arkansas… that’s it. So the little things that I’m doing to preserve what we have is the least I can do.

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