Beyond February…Uncovering More Hidden Figures

With Black History Month 2017 on its last day, it’s time to decide if we will continue the celebration of US,our story,our accomplishments and our power.

Here at Heritage Box, we believe in celebrating year round ,especially for our children.Hundreds of packages have been delivered nationwide to do just that!

This March,we would like to showcase another “hidden figure”.Have you ever heard of Le Chevalier de Saint George?

 

Author Denise Mpinga sat with us to share more about this man that we should all know.Her book ,The Musical Adventures of Saint George
is featured in the March boxes of our subscribers!

What inspired you to start writing the book?

My favorite childhood author – British writer Jane Austen inspired me to write this book. For the last 10 years, I’ve had the opportunity to be a travel blogger. I was doing a research project on fun things to do in London and cool personalities. I interviewed this awesome fitness coach from Guadeloupe Island living in London named Sebastien Foucan. He runs a lifestyle company called Free Running Academy. He did some awesome scenes in the James Bond movie Casino Royale. This was my first introduction to the island of Gaudeloupe.

 I did a feature story on London’s top baker who is Nigerian Elizabeth Solaru. She makes cakes that are exquisitely beautiful and tasty at her shop called Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium. Then, my last assignment, I wanted to explore my favorite author Jane Austen’s London. Jane Austen was a writer from England who wrote 6 books. She lived a little over 200 years ago. Her books have been made into movies, cartoons you name it. Hollywood has made billions of dollars off of her 6 books. 

What I have always loved about her writing is just how beautifully she uses the English language. Her characters are always fascinating and interesting. When I was a child, reading her books just took me away to a whole other exciting world. Her writings inspired me to want to write, and I have all my life.

 So you may ask, why the interest in a British writer? Well, my family is from Zimbabwe. I was born and raised in the United States. My parents decided when I was 6, that they were going to return home to Zimbabwe. We only lived there for 3 years, but that experience has lasted all my life. Zimbabwe, if you don’t know was once a British colony. What that means is that you’d go to school and learn to speak British English, and drink lots of tea and get lots of exposure to British culture. Of course, in school, we learned about lots of British writers.

 In doing my research project about Jane Austen, one of the things is that when you see most movies, cartoons from Hollywood you definitely don’t see any people of color playing her characters at all. Hollywood gives you the impression that there were no black people living in Jane Austen’s London.

 Well, there have been several amazing scholars and academics who have found out quite the opposite, and in fact that Miss Jane Austen was actually a person of color. She was black British, and there were many native black Europeans in Britain, France, Germany all over. They were not children of Africans who were enslaved as most people would be led to believe.

My discovery of Le Chevalier de Saint George

In the process of trying to learn more about these black British and black Europeans, I came across the music of Le Chevalier de Saint George also called Joseph Boulogne. You see his last name spelled differently by different authors…so I chose my favorite. Just listening to his music, I was amazed and intrigued. The music was so beautiful.

 It was intriguing to see that there were some black people in history who had a sense of themselves, were intelligent, geniuses in fact, leaders in the world, pioneers…and not in a place I would have expected.

So the book was born – Treasure Hunt on Butterfly Island.

 What was most surprising about your trip to Guadeloupe and what did you  find most unique about Guadeloupe?

 Guadeloupe is a French-speaking island. It’s actually still owned by France. The island was tossed back and forth between the British and the French. So when you travel there, going to Guadeloupe is like going to France. They use the euro as their form of money, which is what is used in Europe. I loved the people the most. I’ve been to other Caribbean islands, but I never really connected in the way that I did when I went to Guadeloupe. I was struck with how similar the temperament of Gaudeloupeans is with Zimbabweans. I could definitely tell that the African heritage of Guadeloupe was from southern Africa.

 

They also speak Creole. I was amazed that there were African words that I recognized! Wasn’t expecting that.

 My host was a Guadeloupen – Vanessa Bolosier. She’s written a cookbook about Gaudeloupean culture and food called Creole Kitchen. She took us all over the island. I got to see Guadeloupe from a Guadeloupean perspective. We went to the home of Le Chevalier de Saint George. Le Chevalier de Saint George’s father owned one of the largest sugar plantations on the island…more on that later. It’s on the slope of a volcano. The beaches are gorgeous!! The food is amazing. Think New Orleans French food. The coffee we get from Louisiana actually originated in Guadeloupe. Add the tropical fruits to the list, I was in heaven.

 Historically speaking, what’s interesting is that in 1763, France gave up Canada to the British so they could keep Guadeloupe. That should tell you something. It’s a special island!

 Just two years ago, they restarted direct flights from the United States to Guadeloupe. So it’s affordable to get there.

 
Sainte Anne Beach, Grande-Terre Island, Gaudeloupe. Photo by Andreas Lindemann, Agency Dreamstime

Why do you think this is an important story to be told?

So the Treasure Hunt on Butterfly Island is the first book in a series covering the life, the times and people of Le Chevalier de Saint George – Joseph Boulogne. Before I went to Guadeloupe, I did a lot of preliminary research on Joseph Boulogne and his family – English language and French. I found a very interesting pattern. He’s a mystery man. His parents are mysteries too, which I thought was odd for someone who hung out with the French kings and British kings. You can find three different men named as his father, who was supposedly an adviser to the French kings and just this assumption ,because his father was wealthy and European that he was a white European man who used the title of a black man – Saint George as part of his own name and that for his son. In fact, Joseph Boulogne’s father was like Jane Austen, a black European.

 Joseph Boulogne was the most famous musician in his time, even more than another famous musician by the name of Mozart. When I was in college, I studied French history and not once was he ever mentioned. I took a music appreciation class in college too, and not once was he ever mentioned. His story – definitely suppressed. Many people say oh it’s because he was black. But I wanted to learn more…

 

There are probably two main works in the last 20 years from scholars on his life. One of them I read…about 500 pages. Supposed to be a well-credited academic. I couldn’t wait to finish reading it and this is not in a positive light. It was so colonial and so racist – it relied on trivial stereotypes about so-called slaves. The writer would go on and on about the slaves and masters, and if you use your mind, ask questions and seek to really understand the truth – there were so many gaps in this biography. Loads of speculations. I think many mainstream scholars and academics get away with shoddy research especially if their subjects are black people.

My family is from Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a very unique country in Africa, because it was once the capital of one of Africa’s most powerful empires up until about 300 years ago – the Monomotapa Empire. Most people in America don’t know anything about the Monomotapa Empire and the emperors and kings…even Zimbabweans today are very uneducated about their African past..but I come from a family of educators and I grew up with the stories of our kings and what really happened..there are many ancient documents and books, that most people don’t know anything about. For example, you can even find a drawing of one of the last Monomotapan kings and emperors at the British Museum in London!

 These rather racist, stereotypical biographies of Le Chevalier de Saint George made me want to go to Guadeloupe.

I wanted to find out who are these slaves? What kind of slave island produces this level of a musical genius who formed Europe’s top orchestra? Must be something special about these people. And there sure is. Their music called gwoka was a direct influence on Le Chevalier de Saint George’s music, the melodies, the soul. The Gaudeloupean martial arts, which was brought to the island by many of the enslaved Africans was a direct influence on Le Chevalier de Saint George as he was Europe’s top fencing champion and was known for his teaching of this martial art. I really didn’t understand how the word slave – can cover people from so many different cultures and such a rich history!

 

From the mainstream books out there, you also don’t really ever get the connection between Le Chevalier de Saint George and the black British people like Jane Austen.  There were two other Chevalier de Saint George’s who lived during Joseph Boulogne’s time and yes…they were his relatives!

 

 I think the importance of this story is to reconnect with a missing link of black history namely Europe. History is very important. If you don’t know your origins, you will never understand your destiny. We have to get beyond the slave narrative. Our African cultures are very ancient, thousands of years old…spread all over the world. The experience of slavery and colonialism has roughly been 300-400 years of our experience and heritage.

 I wanted to get beyond stereotypes and really understand, connect emotionally with the men and women who have given us the world through their faith, their genius and perseverance. We owe it to our ancestors to do that for them.

 

I also think it begins with children, this new generation because they have more inquisitive, open minds. They have the whole world at their feet.

 

I’m passionate about this story. Each book that is purchased, goes to fund the purchase of musical instruments for school children in Africa. The objective for African school children to learn about classical music with its many black composers. My first project is with Tree Africa Ghana and Akoma International Academy. We’ve purchased 11 violins and 1 keyboard for two classes of 15.

 

We can’t just know things in our head…we have to apply the knowledge and educate, educate, educate!

 

What else can we expect from your series?

 I love adventures. I love to travel. So the Treasure Hunt on Butterfly Island begins with the island of Guadeloupe. Each book has an accompanying podcast that has Le Chevalier de Saint George’s music and interesting biographical information and will also include other related music. In getting beyond stereotypes and appearances, I wanted to find out about  the title Le Chevalier de Saint George – this means the Knight of Saint George. We will learn who the real Saint George was.

 

I wanted to find out more about Guadeloupe…since as the birthplace of Le Chevalier de Saint George, it had a profound influence on his life. We’re going to learn about who named Guadeloupe…there is a lot of significance in what things and places are named…that will take us to Mexico, Spain’s black history with its Moors, Yemen, East Africa.

 We’ll learn where Le Chevalier de Saint George’s favorite musical instrument – the violin – came from. Hint, it’s origins are in East Africa.

We’ll learn about the history of Western European classical music – believe it or not, it came out of black churches in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.We’ll meet some Black British and Scottish peoples. We’ll learn about Ghana and Portugal – the sailors and navigators who changed the world and so much more…We have an amazing history no matter where we live on the planet.

 

I hope your readers will join me. At the end of the series, I want
each child to have listened to Le Chevalier de Saint George’s
heavenly music, to be inspired by the awesome examples of
leadership, to be confident after solving the mysteries and puzzles
thrown their way, to know that no matter what complexion their
skin is – they can do whatever they put their minds to and see
themselves in history – not as just children of slaves or coming
from a people who just seem to be losers…but knowing they are
winners and have an awesome lineage, culture and history…

Where can parents purchase the books and the rest of the series?

 https://www.themusicaladventuresofsaintgeorge.com/books

 


Heritage Box Is A Subscription Box Service That Teaches Black History And African Geography To Children. We Believe Every Month Should Be Black History Month. We’re On A Mission To Make That A Reality. Subscribe To Heritage Box Today.

If You Don’t Celebrate Kwanzaa, Here’s Why You Should Start Right Now

This month the boxes that arrived on the doorsteps of the homes of our Heritage Box families included a few items to help kids and parents celebrate Kwanzaa. We knew it was important after we saw statistics that said only about 2 to 5 percent of African Americans celebrate the holiday here are home.

The Heritage Box team felt it was the perfect opportunity to have families learn more about it together.

Kwanzaa was created to introduce and reinforce seven basic values of African culture which contribute to building and reinforcing family, community and culture among African American people as well as Africans throughout the world African community.

These values are called the Nguzo Saba which in Swahili means the Seven Principles.

Developed by Dr. Karenga, the Nguzo Saba stand at the heart of the origin and meaning of Kwanzaa, for it is these values which are not only the building blocks for community but also serve to reinforce and enhance them. (source: http://www.officialkwanzaawebsite.org/7principles.shtml)

Our family never lived in a community that celebrated Kwanzaa. Most in our circle dismissed it as “a made-up holiday” and a “replacement for Christmas.” This all changed when we attended a Kwanzaa event in our city hosted by a sorority three years ago and realized it was nothing like we had thought.

It was not a religious celebration but instead a GRAND celebration of roots, culture and heritage. Sure, it was made up, but truthfully, aren’t all holidays “made up?”

Once we understood more about the 50-year history of Kwanzaa, we were far more excited about celebrating it.

Kwanzaa was established to help African Americans connect with their African cultural and historical heritage by uniting in meditation and study of basic African principles

The ceremony was beautiful, the griot captivated the children and adults with his storytelling. His story weaved together the seven principles in such a way that we all aspired to espouse these principles in our daily lives.

We could all see how if only as a community we could practice these principles year round, our strength, achievements and power as a people would be unstoppable.

Celebrate Kwanzaa

For me, that collective hope and determination in the room after the ceremony was something I still hope will continue to bind us as a community:

Where your children are my children: (UNITY),

Where we are clear on who we are: (SELF -DETERMINATION)

Where your problems are my problems: (COLLECTIVE WORK AND RESPONSIBILITY)

Where we build our own and support each other: (COOPERATIVE ECONOMICS)

Where we all commit to the growth and betterment of our communities: (PURPOSE)

Where we encourage creativity: (CREATIVITY)

Where we believe in ourselves and in our people: (FAITH)

These principles are timeless and hopeful. As such, we believe Kwanzaa should be celebrated more. Our communities will be better for embracing principles that help us strive for greatness as individuals and as communities.

Do you celebrate Kwanzaa? Tell us why you started and describe your experience.


Heritage Box Is A Subscription Box Service That Teaches Black History And African Geography To Children. We Believe Every Month Should Be Black History Month. We’re On A Mission To Make That A Reality. Subscribe To Heritage Box Today.

Holiday Gift Guide: What to Buy Your Culturally Conscious Kids this Year

Not another 100 pieces to assemble toy! Or another Barbie that will be forgotten in a few weeks! If you’re anything like most parents still reeling from this election cycle, this holiday season you want to give a gift that extends well after Christmas.

This holiday season, how about giving the gift of our culture and our heritage! Here at Heritage Box, every gift in our guide have been kid tested and parent approved!

Our Heritage Box families across the nation have already received many of these items this year and will see even more in their 2017 monthly subscription boxes!

It has been proven, children who know their history and heritage are more likely to grow up with an unshakeable sense of self and confidence that prepares them to navigate the world as adults.

Our Top 10 Gift Ideas

Movies and TV:

Meltrek Episode 1: Exploring Ancient Africa

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If you are looking for an animated, catchy and historically accurate representation of how great our people have always been, Meltrek is a great gift! This is the first episode of Meltrek, an educational hip hop animated series that teaches children authentic African American history from 3000 BCE to 2008. An amazing part of this production is that children between the ages of 9 and 16 are involved in character designing, background designing, storyboarding, scripting, and voiceovers. Our subscribers will each be getting a copy of this awesome episode for their December shipment!

Tell me who I am

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Warning: This is super catchy! You and your kids will be singing the infectious tracks in this first episode as Nia, a courageous young princess from 14th Century Timbuktu, and her magical friend, Funzi the Fuzzwuzz, barely escape an attack by the evil wizard, Komo. Their journey in a pyramid-shaped time ship takes them to 21st century America where they meet Kwame and Manny–two boys trying desperately to stay focused on a class science project. The kids learn a game called Tell Me Who I Am, which they use to outsmart the evil Komo, to keep him from stealing the treasured Imhotep medallion Nia has vowed to protect! More episodes of this award-winning show are in production and we can’t wait to continue the journey with Nia!

Bino and Fino Afrocentric Kids Pack

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If you want a gift that celebrates Africa, look no further. Bino and Fino is an animated series from Nigeria that teaches children about Africa and diversity. This special gift pack comes with 2 DVDs, 3 dolls and a map of Africa.

Music

Culture Queen

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Steeped in majestic affirmations and melodic anthems, Culture Queen’s debut album I Like the Me I See hits all the right notes for families and educators raising confident, culturally aware and curious children. The soulful alto’s voice dances across a fusion of rich calypso, afrobeat, jazz and hip-hop rhythms while inviting you to celebrate all the things that make you who you are. Heritage Box’s royal themed box comes with a copy of this beautiful music celebration.

Games

Brain Quest Black History

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If your older sons or daughter love trivia, this little gem has lots of easily digestible Black History facts that they are unlikely to learn in school. This gift is perfect for road trips!

Black Heritage Trivia Game

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Rated as a “must-have” for family game nights! Fun for the whole family. It might have been meant to teach the kids but who knows, mom and dad could learn something new too!

Books

Memories of Little Elephant

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An understated gem, this book has to be the most beautifully woven tapestry of our ancestors’ journey from Africa to where we are today. The high quality glossy pages and art will make this a mainstay in any home!

Butterfly Island

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This is the first in an exciting new series from our latest partner, Author Denise Mpinga. It is a fun, engaging 7-Volume Music Appreciation Series for 8 to 12-year-olds, covering the life, the times, the people, the places and the music of Le Chevalier de Saint George – Joseph Boulogne. It is not well known that he is first classical composer of African ancestry. Some have called him the Black Mozart. His story spans across the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, Europe and the Americas and Denise has outdone herself in researching the history of this great composer and presenting it in a very engaging way! The series begins with The Treasure Hunt on Butterfly Island. With the help of George, the brave knight who is the tour guide for adventurous treasure hunters. The mission is to complete 10 Treasure Hunts and to find the clues to a 300-year-old missing treasure. Heritage Box will be spotlighting the Caribbean and South America African diaspora through the story of Joseph Boulogne in 2017!

Heart and Soul

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Kadir Nelson has a way of drawing both children and adults in with his story. It is no surprise that this book has won so many awards because of its ability to intimately tell our history of pain and ultimate triumph in a captivating way.

Want it all?

Heritage Box (That’s us!)

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We are the first monthly subscription box service dedicated to educating children about Black History and Africa in a fun and engaging way. Over the course of 2016, hundreds of families have joined our mission of celebrating Black History and heritage beyond the month of February. Each month, children between 5 and 12 years old receive a box in the mail filled with books, hands-on activities complete with supplies, authentic souvenirs sourced from African merchants and much more! Themes alternate between Black History and the Africa travel boxes. Heritage Box has been featured in Essence magazine, on ABC and on numerous parenting blogs.


We have recommended only the best gifts from writers, musicians and business owners we have worked with and gifts we have given to our own children.

Are you considering supporting any of these businesses? Did we miss any important ones? What’s on your shopping list for your culturally conscious child this year?

**Some affiliate links included

Telling our black children “The Truth” about Donald Trump’s America

In the days after Donald Trump became our president-elect, we wrote a blog post and asked two questions: “How are the children?” and “What do we tell them now?” in the wake of the results.

The resounding answer from you: “The truth!”

Over and over this was echoed as the only option for the Heritage Box parent community when it came to talking to our children about the election.

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We all had to accept not just that Hillary Clinton lost, but also the fact that a man who ran on a platform of hate, racism and bigotry was deemed worthy of leading our country.

We all had to accept that so many of those who work in our offices and live in our neighborhoods saw a leader in someone who proudly exhibited characteristics we teach our children to be unacceptable. Nonetheless, this is the current condition of our country and giving our children the truth as they see or experience people emboldened now to express their hate is tough but necessary.

It begs the questions: How do we armor our child against the hate they may face more frequently now?

How can we best equip them to stand strong in the face of hate, at school or wherever we are not present to protect them?

How can we maintain their childlike innocence and peace?

As parents to black children, at some point many of us have had our children unfortunately subjected to racism on the playground, in the classroom or in other public spaces. I can still remember with painstaking detail the day my then 4-year-old daughter was shamed on the playground at school.

I was at work when I got a phone call from her preschool teacher. There had been an incident and my daughter was inconsolable. I asked what had happened, assuming that it was an accidental physical injury.

“Well… she isn’t hurt physically but a friend made a really bad comment that hurt her feelings. The director is consoling her now but suggested you come in.”

Shaken, I told them I would get on the road immediately. As I drove wondering what it could possibly be, everything in me told me I already knew the answer.

When I got to the school, my worries were confirmed.

A classmate had told my daughter that she didn’t want to play with any brown people today. She said they were dirty, ugly and should all stay away from her. She had told my daughter that she hated her, her brown parents and sister. The other children kept playing with the girl until they realized my daughter was tearing up. That’s when they told the teacher what happened.

My heart broke as I realized that in barely 4 years of her life, she had already been exposed to such hate. It broke as I realized that I had not been able to protect her, to prevent such hate from permeating her life. It broke as I thought how many more scenarios like this she would have in her life.

With the rise in cases of bullying tied to racism, many of parents are undoubtedly going through the same emotions I went through after the incident.

After talking with Mutsa Majero, a licensed mental health specialist, and several parents and teachers, we have come up with a few ways to deal with bullying tied with racism.

Keep an open line of communication.

Mutsa suggests that parents let go of their fear of talking about racism. Have open, age-appropriate conversations with children. As you talk, don’t forget to listen, too. Often, when a child is being victimized, they may find it hard to bring up and sometimes they might not even realize that this is not acceptable. Ask leading questions such as what was the best part of your day today? Who did you play with at recess? What was your least favorite part of the day? These kinds of questions provide more opportunities for them to share what is going on. Share your answers from your day too!

Emphasize that they are not the problem.

Children who are bullied will often think that if only they could just be better at sports or be different in some other way, the bullying would stop. But when it comes to racial teasing or bullying, the child cannot “change.” They need to understand that bullies are the ones in the wrong.

Affirm your child.

This has incredible power in building a child’s sense of self. When a child feels empowered, they are highly likely to be assertive and confident. Bullies are less likely to victimize confident children as there is more of a push back. Mutsa also reminds parents to make sure children know they are not alone. Remind your children that no matter what happens at school, there are adults who will protect them.

Don’t tell them to ignore racism.

As our tribe has stressed, the truth is needed. Racism is real and not imagined. Telling children to ignore it can have children feel powerless and even less confident and secure. Instead, encourage them to speak to a trusted adult in your absence and to take a stand when someone else is being victimized. Remind them that more than half of bullying situations (57 percent) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied, according to the Youth Voice Project.

Engage in activities that build their confidence.

Spending more time doing sports, activities and games that they enjoy and thrive in truly builds confidence in children. We at Heritage Box believe that through learning their heritage and being proud of it, a child grows up with an unshakeable sense of self. The sheer knowledge of the incredible ancestors we hail from is a vital component in building confidence. That’s why we created it in the first place!

For more resources on bullying:

https://www.stopbullying.gov/

Warning signs that your child may be getting bullied

https://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/index.html

Be empowered as we go forward and continue to raise our children in this world.


Heritage Box Is A Subscription Box Service That Teaches Black History And African Geography To Children. We Believe Every Month Should Be Black History Month. We’re On A Mission To Make That A Reality. Subscribe To Heritage Box Today.

Donald Trump won. What do we tell our children?

Each time a new subscriber joins Heritage Box, we send them a handcrafted Masaai box covered in red shuka cloth customarily worn by the Masaai, who live in the southern Kenya and northern Tanzania region of Africa.

This is where our Heritage Box children store all the monthly souvenirs and surprises they receive each month.

The significance? The Masaai have a culture that places high esteem on the welfare of all the children. The Masaai Box provides a reminder to all of us to ensure the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of each child.

When one Masaai meets another the greeting is “Kasserian Ingera?” That translates to: “And how are the children? And the expected response is: “All the children are well.”

masaai box
Masaai Box

“And how are the children?”

It is a new era in our country. Tuesday night, we tucked our children in bed in one world, and on Wednesday, they woke up to a new one, a new reality. Wednesday morning, many of us were unsure what the answer to “And how are the children?” really was.

In the early morning bustle of getting the children ready for school, I wondered what to tell them. And part of me hoped I could have a little more time to formulate a “wise” response. Because at 6:15 a.m., I did not have anything wise to say.

We made it until about 6:30 a.m. before my very astute 9-year-old daughter asked, “Is Hilary Clinton the president now?”

Only hours before we were still in our “old world” reading Granddaddy’s Turn: A Journey to the Ballot Box, a book about how we got the right to vote.

My girls had proudly stuck our “I voted” stickers on their foreheads. Before I put them to bed, I told them that the majority of the people in America would not support a candidate of hate. They had been excited to see the first ever female President.

As calmly as I could, I told them that Hilary Clinton had lost the election. Donald Trump was our new president-elect.

Bewildered, my daughter said, “Nooo!” then a moment later she asked: “So what do we do now?”

My little girl surprised me and made me proud that her immediate next question was one of seeking a solution, rather than languishing in despair.

Donald Trump won. What do I tell my black children?

So what do we do now? What do we tell the children? What do we tell ourselves?

How do we explain or begin to understand that our President-elect is someone who is against everything that has made the foundation of America: immigrants, women, different religions, minorities… And that the country still chose him to be our leader?

Rather than fear and apprehension of the future, I am leading my thoughts with my daughter’s first question, “What now?”

First, we can release ourselves from the burden of anger. Then we can teach our children a hard but important lesson.

We can teach our children that the playing field will not always be fair.

We can teach them that sometimes those who attempt to dehumanize you and silence you may seem to be getting rewarded for it.

We can teach them that it does us no good to lower ourselves to that standard.

Finally, we can teach them to not tire of the fight to do good and to continue to fight for what is right.

Over the next couple of weeks, there will be a lot of alarmist reporting, and children will likely be discussing this at school too with their peers. It is more important than ever to just have them feel secure right now. Assure them that they will be ok.

Make it a point to ask what they talked about. This will allow you to pick up on what they’re hearing and be able to discuss it with them to minimize anxiety.

And don’t forget to take care of yourself as well. If you must, unplug from TV. Sign off of social media when you feel overwhelmed and take time to recharge and restore your sense of peace.

We would love for you to share tips on how best to help our children and ourselves during this time of transition.


Heritage Box Is A Subscription Box Service That Teaches Black History And African Geography To Children. We Believe Every Month Should Be Black History Month. We’re On A Mission To Make That A Reality. Subscribe To Heritage Box Today.

Got 1 hour a week? You can teach Black History at home with Heritage Box

School pick up. Soccer practice. Baseball practice. Girl Scouts meeting. Cub Scouts meeting. Dinner. Family time. Story time.

And that’s just your Monday!

This is the hectic life of most families when school is in session. And that doesn’t even account for the full day’s work for parents and schooling for children. Time management and prioritizing what to do with this small window you have left of time is of paramount importance… and it’s tough too!

My husband and I found ourselves as parents simply inundated with all these activities and since we only have 24 hours in a day, we were stretched so thin that we had to question which ones were essential.

After cutting back in hopes of getting more family time, we got a wake-up call one evening that made us question our priorities all over again. It came from our then 7-year-old daughter in February 2014.

During dinner we asked how school was and what they had done that day for Black History Month.

She said flippantly,” All we did was color a picture of Dr. Martin Luther King.”

Stunned… (but not really) … I asked,” Is that all you have done all month?”

“Yup,” she said matter-of-factly.

The wheels started turning in our heads as we realized that our intention of raising them with a knowledge and awareness of their heritage was not being carried out.

We realized in the middle of making time for school and work and extracurricular activities, we were simply not being consistent at home about teaching our children what we knew they needed to learn.

The idea for Heritage Box was conceived after that conversation. We wanted to provide parents like us, with a consistent solution to learning about our heritage and African geography.

You may be wondering how, even with Heritage Box, you could still carve out time in your already hectic family schedule to teach about the vastness of black history year-round.

Well, we will go ahead and show you just how easy it can be using our welcome box as a guide! Every new subscriber starts out with this box their first month so we thought it was the perfect place to start giving you concrete examples.

One of our awesome subscribers, April, recorded an unboxing video with her son. In it you can see every item you’ll get in your welcome box!

Click here to watch the video: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ET3-vckl0yM

How to teach black history at home in just 1 hour a week with Heritage Box

You can do all the activities in one day if there is time or spread them out over each week.

Week 1:

World Map activity: Hang up the map that comes with the box somewhere easily visible, bedroom, playroom, family room. Go through the continents with your child. Ask them what they already know about each and share what you know. (15 minutes)

Activity: Create a 3D Salt Map. We took out all the guesswork. The directions you need are included your box. (30 minutes)

Using the map, have your child teach YOU a short lesson about the location of the different African countries. (15 minutes)

Week 2:

Review the first half of the booklet “Let’s Travel Together Through Ancient Africa History” (15 minutes)

Using the My Heritage Box Journal, ask your son or daughter to can make a drawing (pre-writers) or write their thoughts on the most interesting new fact they have learned about Ancient Egypt (30 minutes)

Week 3:

More on Ancient Egypt/Kemet: Using the included fun figurines, Ancient Egypt stickers and informative Ancient Egypt book, try to identify the figurines provided along with their meaning to Ancient Egyptians. (30 minutes)

Activity: Using the information included about ancient hieroglyphics, practice writing family member’s names in hieroglyphics (30 minutes)

Week 4:

Review the second half of the booklet “Let’s Travel Together Through Ancient Africa History” (15 minutes)

Read the provided book: Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti (for younger children) or Sundiata, King of Mali (for older children) (20 minutes)

Journal activity: What parts of Anansi the Spider or Sundiata, King of Mali did you like the most and why? (15 minutes)

With up to an hour broken up over the span of each week, you can cover a substantial amount of fun learning in a way that doesn’t feel like learning at all! Also, having your son or daughter be the teacher really encourages children to get and stay engaged in the lessons.

The result will be some quality bonding time and a gateway to conversations that share your family’s story with your children. These conversations will undoubtedly be the source of some very special childhood memories later on!

As little Issac said at the end of April’s video, it will be “awesome, mom!”


Heritage Box Is A Subscription Box Service That Teaches Black History And African Geography To Children. We Believe Every Month Should Be Black History Month. We’re On A Mission To Make That A Reality. Subscribe To Heritage Box Today.

10 Quotes for Parents Raising Confident Kids Who Know Their History

Can you imagine a world where our differences are celebrated? What do you think would change if the stories of our grandparents and their grandparents were retold at family gatherings and passed down to our children and grandchildren?

When we commit to learning about our heritage, preserving our heritage, and sharing it with the next generation, it’s possible to create a world where we would gain inspiration from those who have paved the way for us.

As parents of three beautiful children of African heritage, my husband and I know the importance of raising our children with an unshakeable sense of who they are. And we have made a commitment to raising them with a knowledge of the brilliant people they hail from. They are raise to know that they stand on the shoulders of so many.

That commitment is shared by hundreds of families in America who receive our monthly subscription boxes that are a tool in teaching children Black History and African Geography.

Through our boxes this year alone, families have learned of the kingdoms of Ancient Africa, the Kings and Queens of Africa, and Africans exploring America before Columbus. Our Heritage Box families have also learned about the African countries of Zimbabwe, Ghana, Botswana, Tanzania, and Kenya. And we don’t plan to slow down anytime soon!

Here are 10 brilliant quotes that were instrumental in inspiring our passion for helping families to celebrate their African Heritage.

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Heritage Box Is A Subscription Box Service That Teaches Black History And African Geography To Children. We Believe Every Month Should Be Black History Month. We’re On A Mission To Make That A Reality. Subscribe To Heritage Box Today.

America… and other things Christopher Columbus didn’t actually discover

The African proverb “Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter” eloquently states what we all know: When both sides of our history are not told, a single perspective will begin to be regarded as truth.

Most of us grew up reading and learning about the great discoveries of Christopher Columbus. To this day, nearly half of the schools across the country still close down in observance of his holiday.

It was all normal to me and for a long time, I didn’t question it. After all, we learned all through school that Columbus discovered America. It was supposed to be a fact, right?

It was not until I came across a protest pushing for the replacement of Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples Day that I discovered the atrocities that Columbus’s mission had brought to America. In the process, I also discovered that Ancient African explorers had travelled to North and South America long before Columbus’ “discovery.”

Here’s what else I learned about Columbus and his “discoveries”

Christopher Columbus did not discover America, other Europeans had already been to America before him.

There were already more than 100 million Native people already living in America when Columbus arrived.

It was already understood by scientists that the world was round not flat. Columbus is falsely credited with this “discovery” as well.

What does this all have to do with us as parents?

Honestly, at this stage I think there is only one real reason to celebrate Columbus: His story shows the importance of us teaching our children OUR story and making sure OUR story gets told.

That means, even as adults, we should be continuously learning our history and having our children see us do this to encourage them on their life-long learning process. It also means pointing out inaccuracies when we see them. (You may remember the case where Scholastic had to pull one of their picture books off the shelves for whitewashing slavery.)

Here are some great resources that tell about our people in America before Columbus

The children’s book, The Great Encounter:

The classic that every adult should read at least once: They Came Before Columbus

Our mission at Heritage Box is to help families raise children that are culturally aware and proud of their rich heritage. Each monthly delivery is carefully curated to deliver a fun, enriching experience for the whole family.

We are parents too and take our role to pass on OUR story to our children as sacred and we are honored to support hundreds of families across America to do the same!

For more information about Heritage Box, the first monthly subscription box designed to deliver engaging lessons in Black History and African geography please visit www.heritage-box.com.

Heritage Box Family Spotlight: Meet the Pattons

Earlier this year, we sent out or first set of subscription boxes filled with books on Ancient Africa, a map of the world, toys and little artifacts for young children to play with as they learn about their history.

Since then, we have sent hundreds more boxes to kids all over the country.

One of the best parts about bringing this labor of love into the world is getting to know our Heritage Box family. This week we want to introduce you to one of the families that have supported us from the very beginning.

Angela Patton, a homeschooling, entrepreneurial mom of four wonderful boys took some time to chat with us and talk about her family and how they use Heritage Box every month.

Heritage Box: Hi Angela, why don’t you introduce yourself and your family to the Heritage Box community?

Angela: Thank you so much for being interested in featuring our family. My name is Angela Patton and my husband is Kevin Patton. We have four boys, Kevin Jr., Kallai, Kindal and Kaiel. We homeschool our boys as well as run a small private school in Minnesota. Our school is called Future Leaders Learning.

HB: Why did you decide to homeschool?

AP: We decided to homeschool our boys because the public school system wasn’t challenging enough. Our oldest two boys were identified as gifted and talented very early. They were involved in their Gifted & Talented program but it wasn’t enough.

They got “bored” in school. We wanted them to keep their passion alive for their education. Children spend a lot of time at school and it molds them. If they’re unhappy most of the day for five days a week, a change needed to be made.

HB: What benefits you have found from homeschooling your boys?

AP: There are so many benefits to homeschooling. For one, you can teach your child how they learn. We have four boys and they each have different interest and different styles. We cater to that as much as possible. There should never be a one size fits all for teaching. In addition to that, we learn with our children. Many parents shy away from homeschooling because they feel like they don’t know enough. We learn with them and it’s so much.

HB: How did you find out about Heritage Box?

AP: We found out about Heritage Box on Instagram first. Once we saw the pictures, we KNEW we needed to have this as a family.

HB: How has your experience using Heritage Box been?

AP: We love it so far. We’re learning, researching and loving ourselves all the more. It’s great to learn about our history in different way.

HB: How do you incorporate your homeschooling with the box contents, can you give examples?

AP: When we receive our box, we pretty much map it out as to how we’re going to cover it. Our children research the country more. Learn about the languages, government, natural resources etc. From there, they’re able to learn about different animals and agriculture as well. We use the Heritage Box as a Social Studies guide. Our children give oral presentations on what they’ve learned. I think the next item to add is a book report for the books that come in the Heritage Box as well.

HB: Which box has been the favorite and why?

AP: We loved the box from Tanzania. We learned about animals, learned some Swahili and played Mancala.  Our boys love Mancala! They were excited to show others how to play with items you have at home; egg carton and dry beans.

HB: Not only are you and your husband entrepreneurs. You’ve also encouraged that spirit in your boys as well. Can you tell us more about the boys’ venture and how you as parents encourage and develop that?

AP: Since my husband and I run different businesses, we encourage our children to the same. We grew being taught, “go to school, get good grades, go to college and get a good job.” We don’t teach our boys or our students that. We encourage them to find their passion and go for it. Right now, they design t-shirts. They have fun doing. We told them if they’re serious, we would help them. Kevin and I realize that the happiness of our children is our biggest ROI.

HB: Any tips the boys would like to share to encourage other kid-preneurs?

AP: Don’t be scared. Go for it. Children your age may not understand what you’re doing but that shouldn’t stop you.

HB: How can we purchase and what from the boys?

AP: The have a “SHOP” link on their blog. Their website is www.thekapopinion.com

If you are a subscriber and would like to be featured in a heritageboxblog.com Q&A, send an email to support@heritage-box.com.


Heritage Box Is A Subscription Box Service That Teaches Black History And African Geography To Children. We Believe Every Month Should Be Black History Month. We’re On A Mission To Make That A Reality. Subscribe To Heritage Box Today.

Celebrating African Heritage Month: 5 countries, 5 facts and 5 new book recommendations

Last weekend marked the momentous opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture and we all got to witness the nation’s first African American president open it to the public.

Yes, there is still work to be done to improve the social, economic and political status of African Americans. All you have to do is turn on the news to see that.

But in that moment, it felt like a good time to pause, reflect and get re-energized to continue blazing the trails to improve and lead this country.

Coincidentally, September is now celebrated as African Heritage Month in Maryland.

In honor of African Heritage Month, Heritage Box participated in the annual PanFest Festival in Silver Spring, Maryland. The theme of the festival was “Celebrating African Unity.”

pictures of PanFest Festival, with permission from JB'S photography by Liran
(Pictures of PanFest Festival, with permission from JB’S photography by Liran)

 

At Heritage Box, we’re on a mission to not only teach about little known American black history, but we also want to give your children a look into several countries across the continent of Africa.

Our subscription boxes have already taken families on trips celebrating a number of countries this year!

In the spirit of celebrating African Heritage Month, we’re giving you one cool cultural fact for each African country we have covered so far with our boxes as well as a great children’s book from that country.

Share these interesting facts and books with your children and other parents and let’s work together to pass our culture on to the next generation as we teach ourselves.

Zimbabwe

This Southern African country has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa. About 90 percent of its population is literate. The “mbira,” which is a small hand-held instrument, has been played for more than 1,000 years in Zimbabwe. This instrument is also commonly referred to as a ‘thumb piano.’ Our young subscribers are treated to their very own personal mbira in their Zimbabwe travel box!

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Book choice: Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters: An African Tale by John Steptoe

Tanzania

Did you know that some of the world’s oldest human settlements have been found in Tanzania, at a site called Olduvai Gorge. The hundreds of fossilized bones and stone tools excavated here are over two millions years old! These fossils have been important in the study of human evolution.

Book choice: We All Went on Safari by Lauri Krebs and Julia Cairns

Botswana

The Jwaneng Diamond Mine, located in southern Botswana, is the world’s richest diamond mine! Botswana is also Africa’s longest surviving democracy.

Book Choice: The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case by Alexander McCall Smith

Ghana

This West African nation was once known as the Gold Coast and is the second largest producer of gold in Africa. Ghana is also the world’s second largest producer of cocoa beans.

Book choice: Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson and Sean Qualls

Kenya

This East African country boasts the best wildlife in the world, in both quantity and variety! Our book choice is based on the true story of Africa’s greatest environmentalists!

Book choice: Mama Miti: Wangari Maathai and the Trees of Kenya by Donna Jo Napoli and Kadir Nelson

Did you learn anything new? Did any of these facts surprise you? If so, let us know in the comments and don’t forget to share this post!


Heritage Box Is A Subscription Box Service That Teaches Black History And African Geography To Children. We Believe Every Month Should Be Black History Month. We’re On A Mission To Make That A Reality. Subscribe To Heritage Box Today.