As a Black parent, I knew before my first child was even born that I would have to teach my kids things that other parents wouldn’t. I knew that I would need to work twice as hard to make sure my kids felt rooted and empowered about their skin color. I wanted to be intentional about surrounding my kids with positive and uplifting examples of Black excellence. As a self-proclaimed book nerd, I knew that focusing on our home library was one way I could do this. After sharing some of my intentional work in curating our home library, I knew that many other parents wanted to do the same. And so Mama Let’s Read was born.
The longer nerdier back story
In my graduate studies, I came across Tara Yosso’s work on community cultural wealth. The condensed version is that Yosso provided a powerful counter-narrative to the historical [racist] ideas. She critiqued the idea that only white middle class culture has value. Yosso proposed that rather than using deficit models to describe how BIPOC “do not measure up to white standards,” we should focus on the amazing cultural capital that exists in our communities.
Community cultural wealth completely changed my lens as a woman of color. It ultimately inspired me to do better as a community member and as a parent. Kind of like going from looking at the glass half empty to the glass half full, Yosso’s ideas further fueled me to embrace and uplift all the amazing aspects of Black culture; rather than perpetuating the deficit narratives our society often uses to describe BIPOC.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that some of the kids books with Black characters were actually perpetuating negative racial stereotypes. I was dismayed to see that many of them are on recommended diverse kids book lists. And so, one of my many missions as a parent became focused on intentionally weeding out the good books from the racist ones. Now I am sharing that work with you all in hopes it will make your work as a parent, grandparent, or adult in a child’s life a little easier.