Black History Month 2021 | Representation, Identity, Diversity and Inclusion

 

I love history and Black History Month is one of my favorite celebrations. It’s time for reflection – what have you been doing since you learned the meaning of Black History Month? One way to celebrate and reflect is by learning about black global icons. Some of my favorites are Nelson Mandela, (former President of South Africa), Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. They are undoubtedly a few of the 20th century’s most exemplary anti-racist and anti-colonial leaders. Across the world, Mandela earned international acclaim for his activism in overcoming apartheid and fostering racial reconciliation.

The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity

The theme for Black History Month in 2021 is The Black Family: Representation, Identity and Diversity. Having just celebrated MLK, Jr Day – this is a great opportunity to go back to the subject with your children. Don’t let them forget… go back to explaining who Martin Luther King Jr. was and have an open dialog with your family about his work. Tell your children why it’s important to honor him. And ask your children to memorize his quotes the same way they memorize and sing ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry. History well told is beautiful.

History helps children understand people and societies

When the pandemic hit in 2020, most of us were forced to be a mom; be teacher; and to be therapists for our friends. I connected with an organization in Canada called parents of diversity – they offer webinars, a great support system to navigate the diverse world.

You might be asking yourself, ‘why the hell do I have to teach my children about black history???’ History helps children understand people and societies.

There are so many resources if you want to make a difference and if you have been inspired to take action and address racism. Like many families, I’m trying to raise my daughter in an environment where she can thrive – but if the kids from other families in her classroom are not guided in the right direction, this world will never be a better place. I have a great friend who provides training on equity and inclusion – for organizations or families. I find it helpful to have an ongoing conversation with my daughter about the history and the current situation.

Fighting Racial Discrimination in the Outdoors in Wisconsin

I am a black dual-citizen mom living in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is family-oriented, it offers great outdoor space. I’m still here because I am happy and healthy exploring and embracing the outdoors with my family. We get outside and explore on daily basis – there are SO many things families can do in Wisconsin. I’m currently working on checking out all 48 of the Wisconsin state parks – we have already explored 35 parks!!

I have always been the only black girl in the outdoor groups, now I’m the only black mom in the groups with a biracial kid. I started writing hiking and camping books for children of color, from different backgrounds and cultures to show them that the outdoors is for everyone. Parents need to introduce their children to diversity from birth to be a great role model to your children.

But have you ever picked up a Wisconsin outdoor magazine, and wondered why there aren’t any people of color? Or maybe you never thought about it… until now? Have you ever watched a Wisconsin outdoors show and seen people of color ATVing? I don’t think so. Here is why: I have had my bad and good experiences when it comes to diversity in the outdoors. Doors have been shut in my face by some organizations in Wisconsin where I wanted to bring diversity and inclusion in the recreational outdoors industry. I asked them questions that they couldn’t answer. I wanted to know the real reason why there aren’t any people of color in the local outdoor magazines. I wanted to know why there aren’t any people of color serving as members on the board of directors. It was easy for them to just let me go and carry on – they were not ready for a change and all they wanted me to do for their organization was to volunteer and help them with content for their outdoor magazines to sell off the shelves. My goal was very clear, reaching out to them I wanted to see people of color in Wisconsin represented in the outdoor recreational industry.

I was once stopped on the trails by an old lady and told: ‘Wow, you’re doing great! Keep hiking, there are few of you young women on the trails.’ What does that mean? Few of us black hikers? It could be anything, I don’t take it personally – but it hits home. It’s a wake-up call, I keep trekking and minding my business, and a few minutes later my daughter will ask, ‘What does she mean?’

Wisconsin waterfall in Marinette County

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela

Hike it Baby

I lived in Utah for about 4 years and in 2015, I was a hike host for Hike it BabyI joined the organization because of their mission and great values. I found my tribe and never looked back! Joining an organization like Hike it Baby opened my eyes to another world – by inviting other people to my tribe I have built confidence. I met new moms, new hikers, foreigners like me and I had the opportunity to lead hikes for groups including LGBTQ, Queer, non-binary. I open a room for everyone.

Hike it baby “It is important we are an inclusive community that welcomes those who not only have previous experience in the outdoors, but also those who don’t have an existing relationship with nature and everyone in between. By making the intentional effort to include everyone, we learn more about how to meet people where they are with what they have.”
Kayaking in Lake Mendota

Racism is an ongoing issue that needs to be addressed.

Talking to children about what’s going on in the world will not scare them. Being honest helps children make sense of what’s happening around them.

I’m still growing and learning every day. As a black South African American, I have to understand white men; white women; the community; filter my mouth; keep an eye on my biracial daughter; listen to my black family tell me I’m doing ‘white people things’; and listen to my friends tell me I’m not representing my society because black people don’t hike. When does it end? This could be your daughter one day – and the question is, what story will she tell? Will she have any knowledge of history to share? Is she ready to face the world alone without her mom and dad?

There is no guarantee that my only biracial daughter will be perfect, but I’m sure she will know the difference between right and wrong. I know she will remember the conversations she had with her parents in 2020.

I will still be here fighting to end racial discrimination in the outdoors recreational industry. Black History is important and needs to be celebrated.


Ways to Celebrate Black History Month with your family this year:

  1. Support a Black business

2. Read a book by a Black author

3. Sign up to mentor a Black child in your community

4. Support a Black creative (artist, poet, local musician, etc)

5. Decorate your home with Black Art

6. Read a biography of an influential Black figure

7. Call out racism and prejudice in your community

Dineo is a full-time mom and writer who was born in South Africa but now lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her husband and their daughter. For the past 6years, she has been an ambassador for Hike it Baby, a non-profit organization that connects families with babies and young children to the outdoors and each other. As part of this, Dineo spends much of her time outdoors, once hiking 21 miles in 8 hours and she is keen that her daughter spends as much time outside as is possible. Dineo’s other passion is for writing children's pictures and she currently has 5 books in circulation. Adventure Day, Sunset Hike, Spring hike, Summer Camping, and Christmas from both worlds, these books features diverse characters and are dedicated to nature and were created to inspire children to get out into the fresh air. They both contain exciting and diverse characters that children love. In her free time, Dineo loves reading nature books to her daughter, cooking, and baking. She enjoys running, camping and hiking whenever the opportunity arises and her ambition is to be able to travel the world, volunteering her time to help the needy and using the experiences she gains to write even more children’s books.

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