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Supporting An African-American Identity – Good Parenting

Dear Dr. Debbie,

I was fortunate to group up in a mostly African-American community with plenty of cousins and other long-time playmates who shared a common cultural heritage.

My husband, children, and I often find we are quite the minority in our new neighborhood. We feel very welcome, and are enjoying a variety of experiences with new friends from different cultures, but what can we be doing to continue to help our children identity with and take pride in their African-American culture?

Proud Mama

Dear Proud Mama,

Cultural identity and pride add to a child’s sense of belonging and self-worth. Beyond his wonderful family, he knows he has an instant connection to others with the same heritage. He knows he is valued and can make valuable contributions. Living in a community of diversity, you can strengthen cultural belonging and pride with examples of individuals your children can identify with, count on, and or look up to.

Join a Group
One way to do this in a new community is to join a group that can provide relationships for your children as well as for you. Mocha Moms is a national organization, with a local chapter, providing support and connections to mothers of color with children 0 to 15-years-old. You can get more information from the webpage and Facebook page.

Another group to look into is the local chapter of Jack and Jill of America,
also on Facebook. Founded by 20 moms in 1938, the organization provides social, cultural and educational opportunities for African-American youth between the ages of 2 and 19.

Community Events
Thanks to grant support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a county-wide celebration of African-American History is starting on Friday, February 1 as a partnership among Chesapeake Children’s Museum, Anne Arundel County Public Libraries, and many other partners. The NEA Big Read Anne Arundel County lists events for all ages on its Facebook page .

Following are some highlights for families:

Events at Chesapeake Children’s Museum
Art and Story Time, Friday mornings at 10:30 am, at Chesapeake Children’s Museum, for ages two to five with accompanying adults, featuring picture books and related activities. Upcoming themes are February 1: African Folk Tales, February 8: Jazz it Up, February 15: Family Love, February 22: Famous African-Americans, March 1: Celebration of Color, March 8: The Underground Railroad. The museum is located at 25 Silopanna Road, Annapolis. $5 per person includes museum admission. Free for members. 410-990-1993.

African-American History Challenge, also at Chesapeake Children’s Museum, Saturday, February 2.

The competition will be divided by grade levels:
Grades 2-3, 10 to 11:30 am
Grades 4-5, 1 to 2:30 pm
Grades 6-8, 3 to 4:30 pm.

Your children will meet historic figures then show their knowledge to win prizes! $10. Observers (parents, siblings): $5 each (includes time to explore the museum). Advance registration is appreciated.

Journey to Nubia and Kemet: Exploring African History, Culture & Contributions is a free class at Chesapeake Children’s Museum, for middle school students. Advance registration is required as space is limited. Wednesdays & Fridays, February 6-22, 3:30 – 5:30 pm. The final class will be held at Bates Middle School with presentations by the students.

Lead On, Harriet!
Saturday, February 23 and Saturday, March 9, 7-9 pm at Chesapeake Children’s Museum.
This is an interactive program about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, recommended for ages 9 & up. $12. Please register in advance. 410-990-1993.

Pajama Story Time: Read Across America Day
Saturday, March 2, 7-8:30 pm at Chesapeake Children’s Museum. Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! Share great books about African-American Firsts and Notables, folk tales, and Seuss favorites. Come in your jammies. Evening snacks will be provided. Take home a book! Registration is appreciated: 410-990-1993 or www.theccm.org. $5 per person, ages one and up. Presented by the Annapolis Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Events at Anne Arundel County Libraries are free:

Magnificent Folks, Animals and Other Such Tales
Saturday, February 2 at 2 pm. at Maryland City Library, 3501 Russett Common, Laurel.
Applaud the great accomplishments of those with paws, fins, feet or wings. Storyteller Diane Macklin highlights teamwork and the best tool for solving problems: the brain!

Wednesday, February 6 at 6 pm at Severn Library, 2624 Annapolis Road, Severn.
Besa means “come dance” in the Akan language of Ghana. This is a fun aerobic and cardio workout that uses African dance forms and techniques. Sponsored by Performing Arts Center for African Cultures.

Among the Stars
Saturday, February 9 at 2 pm at Discoveries: Library at the Mall, 2260 Annapolis Mall Rd, (near Crate and Barrel.) Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space in 1992, was also an engineer and physician. Learn about her life and what propelled her into orbit!

Salute to Black Inventors
Saturday, February 16 at 2 pm at Odenton Library, 1325 Annapolis Road. Discover African-American inventors and how they changed the world! Use your imagination and materials provided to make an invention of your own. Sponsor: Chesapeake Children’s Museum.

Succotash Tales
Saturday, February 16 at 2 pm at Crofton Library, 1681 Reidel Road. African-American story teller, Diane Macklin brings the audience in with her “captivating voice and dancing hands.”

African-Folktales and Crafts
Tuesday, February 19 at 10 am at Riviera Beach Library, 1130 Duvall Highway, Pasadena.
Travel to Kunta Kinte’s childhood homeland for Anansi Stories, traditional folk tales from West Africa. Make a Kufi hat and shake your shekere! Sponsored by Chesapeake Children’s Museum and the Kunta Kinte Festival.

African Beats
Friday, February 22 at 10 am at Deale Library, 5940 Churchton-Deale Road. Tap your feet to jazz while listening to a story about musicians from the past. Children will handle and decorate jazz instruments. For ages three through five. Sponsored by Reginald F. Lewis Museum.

Jazzy Storytime
Friday, February 22 at 10:30 am at Discoveries: The Library at the Mall, 2260 Annapolis Mall Rd. Celebrate the rich culture of Jazz with stories, songs and a fun craft! For ages five and under.

More Family Events for African American History Month

Health and Fitness Fair
Saturday, February, 9, 2-5 pm at Pip Moyer Rec. Center, 273 Hilltop Lane, Annapolis. Free admission for: health screenings, information, and hands-on demonstrations. Enjoy a workout with the USNA football team’s strength and conditioning coach. Go on a Health and Fitness Scavenger Hunt. Play a nutrition game. Learn about resources to support your family’s health and fitness with an emphasis on health issues for African-American families. Lots of giveaways!

The Underground Railroad
Wednesday, February 13, 7-8:30 p.m at St. Martin’s in the Field Church, 375-A Benfield Road, Severna Park. Historian Anthony Cohen shares his discoveries about the daring escape routes taken to freedom from slavery. He personally traveled from Maryland to Canada only using the means available in the 1800’s. Ages 10 and up. $10 per person. Free for church members. Registration is through Chesapeake Children’s Museum, 410-990-1993.

A Journey in Time – Celebration of African-American History
Saturday, February 16, 1 – 4 pm at Center Court, Marley Station Mall, 7900 Ritchie Highway, Glen Burnie. Meet some African-American changemakers from history through book readings, crafts, STEAM projects, and a scavenger hunt. Presented by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. Contact: krwest96@gmail.com for more information. Registration is not required.

African-American Heritage Walking Tour
Saturday, February 16, 1-3 pm at Annapolis City Dock. Explore African-American heritage in Annapolis with a Watermark Journey guide in period dress. For over 300 years, African-Americans have comprised a significant portion of the population of the city, the state of Maryland, our county. Adults: $20, Children ages 3-11: $10. Tickets: Watermark  or 410-268-7600.

So much to celebrate!

Dr. Debbie

Click here for more parenting advice by Debbie Wood.

What do you think? Email your comments or questions to Dr. Debbie at editor[at]chesapeakefamily.com.

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