What is this resource? My resource is the YouTube channel called Sankofa Read Aloud. They have over 500 picture book read-alouds. The books center Black children, Black experiences, and Black history. It is a huge source of positive representation. The creator writes that "As an educator and a mother in my community, I believe that is is vital that African American children are able to see themselves within the beautiful stories that they read." In addition, it is a gateway for learning about the history of both anti-Black racism and resistance, through kid-friendly biographies of important figures. Sankofa is a word and symbol used by the Akan people of Ghana. This Youtube creator defines it as: "It is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind!" Sankofa.org describes it as, "You must reach back to reclaim that which is lost in order to move forward".
How did this contribute to your own growth and knowledge? I started watching these videos through being a first grade teacher at a predominantly African American elementary school. We try to highlight Black history and representation every day. Watching these stories made me reflect on how powerful representation and history is, especially for young people. My students absorb so much from these books, the joy as well as the understanding of dark realities. They express their desires for fairness and for people to treat each other with respect. I think about the lack of positive African American representation I was exposed to as a child, and I appreciate the ways that these stories have filled me with so many positive images, stories, and love. I also think children's books are a beautiful way to be introduced to historical figures, and learn things that I wished I had learned in school.
How does it connect to your relationship with race and help advance racial justice? I think that these stories being shared with children of all races is a great start to educating the next generation, preparing them to work against anti-Black stereotypes and biases. It's also a fun, easy way to introduce yourself to important figures and experiences. I grew up in a moderately diverse and progressive community, which was a huge privilege, yet also resulted in a lack of understanding about racism and racial legacies of the past that I had been sheltered from. This Youtube page, though not itself a fix to racial injustice, gives me a lot of hope for the future learning from the past, young and old.