From the Podcast Archives: A Conversation with Author Tiffaney Whyte

Here’s another podcast episode in the archives that I share with you on the blog today. Take a read, then take a listen below ūüôā¬†
Jebeh Edmunds

Hello, everyone. This is Jebeh Edmunds, and welcome back to the Cultural Curriculum Chat podcast. I am just so excited. I have a wonderful teacher who shares her bright light with her students and infuses inclusion and multicultural educational practices that we can learn from every day. Welcome Tiffany White. I’m just going to share real quick about Tiffaney. Tiffaney Whyte is an author, an elementary special education teacher, business owner, and mother of two young adults who reside in Atlanta, Georgia. Tiffaney is originally from Brooklyn, New York. She is passionate about spreading joy and positivity in her classroom. Tiffaney created her brand, the D’Avian Blu Innovations, to empower and motivate fellow educators as they cultivate young minds. Tiffany’s motto is do what makes you happy, create joy for yourself. When you find that, keep going and don’t stop. In 2014, Tiffaney started her Teachers wear Yellow on Monday campaign. This initiative promotes joy and positivity among educators by having them wear something yellow every Monday of the school year. I’m just so honored to have you in the guest chair. Tiffaney, welcome. Welcome, welcome.

Tiffaney Whyte

Thank you for having me here.

Jebeh Edmunds

Thank you. I just have been a big fan of your work. You’ve got a wonderful book out called Nicole and the Fifth Grade Desk. I can’t wait to order it. And you have lots of strategies for educators, your T shirts. Everything you just embody is inspiration that just keeps us going, especially in this work. And can you share with our audience, Tiffaney? What is your story? I know you’re from BK, but what else that helps us learn more about you and your work?

Tiffaney Whyte

Okay. My name is Tiffaney. I am an educator, mom, sister, aunt, all of those things. My story is that I always wanted to be an educator. Growing up, I always wanted to be educated. That was my lifelong dream, and I accomplished it. My story is I have two children, two young adults, as you said, and I just love bringing joy and positivity to everyone that I meet. It’s important for me for someone to feel something when they meet me or for me to feel something when I meet them, especially the young adults and the young children that I work with.

Jebeh Edmunds

Every day. What did you observe in your formative years before you became a mother and an educator, was there something missing that you wish you had in education that reflected you?

Tiffaney Whyte

Here’s the thing. There was nothing missing in education that I didn’t have that didn’t reflect me. I went to school in Brooklyn, New York, very diverse community. All of my teachers looked like me, sound like me. They were of West Indian background. I went to a seven day Adventist elementary school from pre K to eighth grade. Every educator that I had looked like me until I went to high school. When I went to high school, I had educators of different backgrounds. My educational years were wonderful. The teachers were of Caribbean descent. One thing they would say is, Listen, your mother already told me what to do with you when you act up. I already knew that. It was like a real community. I love my elementary years. I love my high school years because they really embodied the culture.

Jebeh Edmunds

That’s amazing. Like you said, too, your educators around were a part of your community as a whole. I feel like a lot of us educators need that parental support and backing and that your teacher said, Yeah, we have your parents backing, so don’t try it.

Tiffaney Whyte

They tell me often of that.

Jebeh Edmunds

I.

Tiffaney Whyte

Do. Yes.

Jebeh Edmunds

It’s with love, too, to say, if anything, everyone is surrounding you and we’ve got you. I just love that. I love that story. That’s very positive. As a parent, what experiences have you embodied yourself and reflected as a parent and as an educator with your students now?

Tiffaney Whyte

I was a young adult parent. My daughter’s 24, so that just tells you I was a young adult parent. As a young adult parent, I had to navigate through a lot of stereotypes, and I had to navigate through what I wanted to do in my life and how I can accomplish those things. I really had to take a step back and look at my environment and look at the people around me and look at what were they doing that I didn’t do or that I can do. I teach fifth grade, but a lot of the times I have to tell my students just a little bit about my story. I have to tell them that I am an educator, but sometimes you do not make mistakes, but sometimes you do take learning curves. Even though you have those curves, you can still accomplish the things that you want to do. I did. I had learning curves. Being a young mother, first year college student, I had a lot of learning curves, but I still was able to persevere and still make my accomplishments, my greatest accomplishments. And I am super proud of myself for that.

Jebeh Edmunds
Yes, that’s amazing, Tiffaney. And I love how you reframe that mistakes. There’s a lot of shame behind the word mistake, but how you say learning curve. And as educators, we’re constantly lifelong learners. When you said fifth grade, I mean, you already have my fifth grade teacher heart because I taught fifth grade, too. It’s like, oh, we would have been awesome teammates.
Tiffaney Whyte

I love teaching fifth grade. I’ve taught kindergarten, I’ve taught first grade, second grade, third grade. I taught high school. High school one year. But it’s something about teaching fifth grade that just lights me up.

Jebeh Edmunds
I love it. Thank you so much because those fifth graders, they need to know, especially getting over that transitional period to junior high, middle school. It’s like, you’re going to have a lot of learning curves, but don’t let that deter you from your ultimate hopes and dreams. I really like that. Another thing I found on your platform that was really affirming is your affirmation cards on your mirrors and how the words, I’m droopy, I’m popping. Those are like fifth grade young people talk and that they can see themselves and stand up a little taller, sit up a little taller. The materials and the content that you’re sharing with a lot of us teachers is such a gift because a lot of us educators are thinking, Okay, what can we do? Especially halfway through the school year, how do we boost morale? You have things that are quick and easy to do, and you can do it in a minute to get things ready and going for your students. Is there anything else that you can suggest to us teachers that is specific to multicultural education and inclusion practices that they could use?
Tiffaney Whyte

I’m going to suggest very simple things. I love music. Music is like my heart and my soul. I feel like music always bridges everybody together. If you’re having a down day, a happy day, you put on a song, and everybody gets into the groove of music. You can always incorporate any cultural music and people would love it. Music brings joy, music brings sadness, music brings happiness. But I love incorporating music into my daily work. Every morning, I’m listening to music in the car, whether it’s rap music, Soca music, reggae music, track music, whatever. Then when I come to school, I’m doing the same thing, too. I’m in the hallway, so I have hallway duties. I make sure that I’m playing music, I’m singing music. I can’t sing, but the kids tell me every day that I’m a great singer, but I’m not. I love it. I try to encompass everything music. At my school, it’s not diverse in culture. When I play music, I make sure that I play a diversity of music because I want to always bring in my culture into anything I do.

Jebeh Edmunds                
I love that. You said music just brings that energy and it keeps kids engaged. I’m from Liberia originally, and I emigrated to Minnesota with my parents. And even doing some afro beats during brain breaks and things like that to keep them going. And then we’re journaling, and there’s a mandarin flute in the background or some Celtic music in between snack. You’re right. It’s a great transitional period of starting your day, keeping things going. I just love that. And yeah, you sing better than me. I’ve seen you post a post. You are singing at the top of your lungs on good 90s hits. And I can just imagine your students, oh, man, here we go. But that’s the thing I feel like as an educator, you really want to hook your students in. You kind of have to go all out, you know, to really have them remember you and how you make them feel at the end of the day.¬†
Tiffaney Whyte

yeah, because it’s all about relationships and how you make, you know, I read something the other day that said that education is not centered. It has to be relationship centered. And I was like, Wow, that’s important because relationships with your students is how you kind of navigate how they’re doing, what they’re doing and what they’re going to do for you. Yeah. You know.¬†¬†

Jebeh Edmunds  

they show you their best when you give them that safe space and that, you know, that feeling of, Oh yeah, let’s try it. So yeah, sometimes I’ll do the Tootsie Roll in between handwriting way back in the day. But those are the things you have to try. And I just know even my students that are adults now come back and go, Oh, we used to do the birthday dance. It’s like, Yeah, things like that. You know, that relationship piece. Oh, thank you, Thank you. Yes. You have talked about music. You have talked about, you know, learning curves. Let’s share more about your work as an author. I love books and I can’t wait to read your book. I just ordered it, so I can’t wait to read it and put it on my YouTube to go, Yes, I know her.¬†

Tiffaney Whyte

Thank you. Thank you so much. Nicole. And the fifth grade desk was inspired by my students and my niece. Right. So my niece had the hardest time with school and my students. I feel like that transition from fifth grade to sixth grade can be a very tiresome one. So I came up with the A desk that talks to them and the desk is going to tell them about the first day and tell them all about the great things that we do in fifth grade and tell them all about the great things that your teachers are going to be and how you’re going to feel. And then it does have some educational background because we talk about figurative language, try to add some standard and some content in there figurative language. And the most important part is that desk don’t speak, right, They don’t talk right. So to have a desk talk is the epitome of figurative language, right? So it’s just an all around great book about a student that looked like me having a conversation with a desk and a teacher that looks like her. So I really I loved writing Nicole in the fifth grade. Jess It just came to me one, I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, but I was like, Oh, no. And then I was like, You know what, Tiffaney? This is a great story and I think everyone needs to read it. You know, despite that, it says fifth grade. It can go for any grade level because students are always scared in the beginning of the school year and middle of the school year and in the school year, because I have students start I had a student start last week, Monday, the first day of school, first day of my school. So. You can always read Nicole in the fifth grade desk.

Jebeh Edmunds  

I’m so excited. And trust me, I can’t wait to share it out. And I will definitely send the information of where you can order Tiffaney’s. Nicole in the fifth grade desk. I just love it how you’re saying we’re seniors of the building, You know, like. Yeah, yeah. Sit a little taller building. I just love that. And you’re right. Every grade level, you know, elementary school, high school, middle school, there’s always that new kid that comes in. It’s uneasy. Even if you’re all new on the first day, we all have those jitters of what to expect and what to do. And I can’t wait to share this book with the audience and any other things before we wrap up. Tiffaney, it’s just been so nice to speak with you and hang out with another fellow educator this morning and anything else, any other.¬†¬†

Tiffaney Whyte

grade, fifth grade fellow educator just so thankful. This journey has been an amazing journey and it didn’t start out that way. The reason why I started this journey is because I was down about teaching and I felt like I didn’t. I felt like I wasn’t appreciated or I felt like I was being picked on and I wanted something to motivate me. And this journey motivated me. And in fact, it motivated me to motivate other people, right? So that’s why I always try to make sure that I’m positive, upbeat because I want to motivate educators because our job is very tiresome. Sometimes it can be helpless, selfless, and I want to make sure I motivate us all to appreciate and love the things that we do.

Jebeh Edmunds 

and you are a miss Queen motivator, I tell you, I look forward to every Monday going, okay, I love that shirt. Oh, I like that one. Okay. I got to just be brave one of these days and tag you. Go ahead.  

Let’s do it. Yes. Oh, thank you so much, Tiffaney. I really appreciate you on our show. And yes, cultural curriculum chat friends, I will send all of Tiffany’s information of how you can follow her and purchase her book and all of her amazing brand of Davion blue innovations and to keep us motivated because. Yes , oh thank you so much Tiffaney . I really appreciate you on our show.

And yes Cultural Curriculum Chat  friend I will send all of Tiffaney information how you can follow her and purchase her book and all of her amazing brand  the Avian Blue Innovations and to keep us motivated because yes we all are halfway to the school years alright. Thanks again

If you’d love to listen to this podcast episode. Click the link here

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.buzzsprout.com/1495555/11874324-season-2-episode-21-a-conversation-with-author-tiffaney-whyte.mp3?download=true  

 

 

Tiffaney created her brand “De’AvionBlu Innovations to empower and motivate fellow Educators as they cultivate young minds.¬†


You can purchase Tiffaney’s products on these links below:


https://deavionbluinnovations.com/


https://www.amazon.com/Nicole-Fifth-Grade-Tiffaney-Whyte/dp/B0B8BPKFZ6

FROM THE PODCAST ARCHIVES: MY CONVERSATION WITH AUTHOR SILVANA SPENCE‚Äč

From the Podcast Archives: My Conversation with Author, Illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton

 On today‚Äôs blog I share my conversation with author, illustrator Vanessa Brantley Newton, I‚Äôve been such a fan of her books, that I‚Äôve shared in my classroom library over the years. Take a listen below.

JE: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the culture curriculum chat podcast with your host Jebeh Edmunds, I cannot wait to share with you all. An amazing author and illustrator whose energetic prose and pictures will motivate you and inspire you every day. We have with us in the guest chair Mrs.Vanessa Brantley Newton.. Welcome, Vanessa.

VBN: Jebeh It’s such a joy and pleasure to be here with all of you. Thank you so much for inviting me. It’s, it’s indeed a pleasure.

JE:Thank you. So before we get diving into it, I’m gonna share your background real quick with our audience. Vanessa was born during the Civil Rights Movement and attended school in Newark, New Jersey, being part of a diverse tight knit community. During such turbulent times, Vanessa learned the importance of acceptance and empowerment in shaping a young person’s life. When she read snowy day by Ezra Jack Keats, it was the first time she saw herself in a children’s book. It was a defining moment in her life, and has made her into the artist she is today. As an illustrator, she includes children of all ethnic backgrounds in her stories and artwork. She wants all children to see their unique experiences reflected in the books they read. So they can feel the same sense of empowerment and recognition she experienced as a young reader. So I loved reading your biography of Ezra Jack Keats snowy data is one of my favorite books. And can you kind of share with our audience that spark that catalyst for change that made you the author illustrator that you are?

VBN:Oh, my gosh, it’s such an awesome question. And every time I give an answer for this book, because I’m asked that question so many times, it was the 1960s when this book came out, and I actually 1963 the year I was born, and gone to predominantly white schools where I was the only black child in the classroom, and not seeing yourself. As a child, I would walk up to my mom and I would often ask her, Am I invisible? You know, something, something wrong, people can’t see me. And it was because we weren’t granted children’s books where we could actually see ourselves. Everything was if you remember, and you’re my age. I’m 60. This year. Dick and Jane? 

JE: Yes 

VBN:He dumped the magazines, Jack and Jill magazine, and all of these different magazines that came out focused on white children and their stories, you know, and so we as brown children, black children, never really got to see our hair textures, skin, what our parents look like, because I was raised with two parents and two parents who were Christian, you know, and so family was everything, whether you were Christian, Muslim, whatever. Family back then was very important. And my mom and dad would not spend their money on books that did not reflect that. Mrs. Russell, one of my favorite teachers, had one of the biggest afros I think I ever saw in my whole entire life. It was orange. She wore orange dresses that were so short that you did not want her to bend over to go go boots. And she was the coolest teachers I loved, loved love Mrs. Russell, and she wasn’t the nicest teacher in the world. But she knew children who learned different, and I learned different, I am dyslexic, I have something called synesthesia, which is the ability to see smell, feel, taste and your color. And I also am a stutterer. And so she knew that. And I remember the day Jebeh, she picked me up and put me on her lap and open up the snowy day. I am 60 years old. And I still get emotional. But it was the first time that I ever saw a black child. Beautifully painted that look like me. I even had a snowshoe. And so I thought Peter was a child that got lost in the book. That was my brother. And I just need to open that book and I could go and visit him anytime I wanted to reclaim the snow together. It was it was everything that book. As a matter of fact, I’ve cut my husband often when I leave here and go to be with the Lord put my Bible and a copy of the snowy day in my palm because I want to read it to the Lord. When I get there with what I get to have it. It’s that special to me. That book is that special to me. I love that book. 

JE:Yeah, such a beautiful written book. I read it I had the big book when my first grade class just the innocent It’s a child playing in the snow and seeing his tracks and you know and what I see how you have transformed your work. It does give you that childlike glow about it. And it’s bright it’s vibrant and just how you even you know described your teacher in the Orange throne with a golden boots

VBN:Yeah yeah Orange throne with a golden boots. Girl The fashion you have in your character. Yes, honey. Yes. Hello Jabba mascara. 

JE:It’s it’s so vibrant. You’ve got African textiles in it in some of these. You’ve gotten jeans down to the stitching, and I need your attention to detail is just perfection. And what I love about your books, Vanessa, is it does it makes you set a little taller? Because even in 2023, there is this urgency to have more I have colleagues and neighbors and people ask me, Jebeh, where are the books that don’t look like my kids? And I’m like, ooh, do I have books for you? Because we want to have all of our kids to know that Vanessa is in Jebeh‚Äôs, we exists. Yeah, existing daily themes. You know, I as an educator, I always would have, you know, my students see me out in the community. And it’s like, yeah, I exist. I do human things. For it to be in a book to open that conversation. I feel like you have done it, my dear. With your becoming Vanessa book. Everybody has their first day of school. Everybody have the jitters? Everybody wants to have their special outfit and with your feather boa and your parents saying, Oh, yes. What are you going to do that special today? And I really, when I read your book, it really took me back to my first day of school experiences. I had a different knee, you know, and how to write it down. And I just love how you juxtapose having two S’s and how you’re still writing your name. Everybody else who’s done.  Every year, we all have students like that they’re still working on their names. Other kids are at the door waiting to go to recess. You know, kids can relate to Vanessa’s story and, and what I love about how you wrote this, and I don’t want to give away too much audience, I want you to get this book, your mother sits you down and shows you and shares with you how important your name is, and why she means that. And I feel as as parents, we need to sit our kids down and say, Do you wonder why I gave you that name? You know, and I feel that gives that child that confidence. And whoa, I know my name and the meaning and why I’m named that and arrogant. eggless. Can you talk more about Yeah, becoming Vanessa. I just love that biographical feel to it.

VBN:I have to tell you and even in what we were first talking about, is I wanted to give children with Ezra Jack Keats .Yes, that that was the whole thing. If I could leave them feeling the same way as you made me feel. The day I got that book. I remember Jebeh going to the library and picking up that book, close to probably 25 times and the librarian threatened me. And he said if he take his book out one more time, she said there are other books that he’s written. Would you like to see them? I read them. And the next week went right back to snowy day. Yeah. You know, in becoming Vanessa. Name names are so important. And this is not to down Americans or America. As far as named, but concerned, this is not not about that. It is when you don’t know you continue to do the same things over and over and over again. When you do know the value starts to come. And then the worse starts to come.

VBN: And then the pride of you know what you have and that’s why naming your child. It’s something so very, very special. It’s looking at that child and it’s there’s something special special about you. And even that is because your mommy and daddy’s baby. There’s something special about you. I remember going here in low country, South Carolina, and I was in art gallery for African American art delegates. You my family’s delegates you from no country governor. Yeah. There was a woman that was in there she was beautiful, gorgeous woman had wrapping all I said, Alexa, what’s your name? And she says my name. I’m trying to remember how she said it. The thing is a great title. And I was so moved when she told them what her name cuz it’s really like a bell when she said it. She said my name is if a title I’ve said oh my god. What is that mean? She said it’s bringer of joy. As I told you, you don’t know how much joy you brought me by sharing your name with me said that name over and over, even if a title if a title. And I was like if I ever have another baby, I’m naming my baby if I type. Because if you’re naming your children names that don’t have any meaning to it, or something derogatory, that’s what you’re calling your child all the time. I lost several children, buried a daughter who would have been 23 years old. I have a 22 year old now named Zoe. VBN:And when I had Zoey, I knew that I wanted to name her Zoe. And the first thing people said to me, Jebeh was, oh, you named Chris Zoe. After Zoe on Sesame Street. I said, No. It’s a biblical name. Zoey needs the God kind of life, there was no depth in it. And I got to hold her. And now that she’s 22 years old, she has become her name. And so when I see her, I tell her constantly, baby girl, you are becoming your name, the God kind of life, there is no death in it. And so when I got my name as a child, I was in what a flight one of the one of the things that I used to do, I would go to school, and when the teacher would give me paint, I would put all the paint in the middle of the page, and then add some stuff together and then pull the page over instant butterfly, and butterfly butterflies. And my mother said neck girl, no, she loves butterflies. My mother was pregnant with my little brother, who was a stillborn as well. And I remember her going through the book and I told her I hate money. She said, You hate your name. Why do you say it it has two x’s in it? Two A’s. It is Harpy. People always ask me why your mama name up next. And I was embarrassed at the name. I remember one of my teachers, one of my teachers, white teacher told me she said that name is too big for you. And when she said that, you know when you said to a six year old that always thought something was wrong with me. And she goes NASA, what a rich name to give a child like you. And the thing to hurt me so bad. I didn’t even know I was hurt Jebeh until I got home.

VBN: And I told my mother I didn’t like my name. And my mom and dad sat me down and then I’ll never forget. They said your name is Vanessa. Do you know what Vanessa means? I had not a clue. She said what’s your favorite thing to draw? Vanessa? Butterflies. So that’s what Vanessa means. It means butterfly, the pride and the joy that I felt in my soul. I still get teary eyed when I tell the story because my self esteem was so in the toilet. I failed completely through school at Cindy’s until I got out of high school. And didn’t want people to call my day. Because I thought something was wrong. When they come by then, of course, she’s dyslexic girl. Oh, she’s a girl. That’s synesthesia now, that crazy stuff. And she started. So every reason to pick on me. So there was like, I don’t know why my parents gave me this name. But in grasping it and now learning it. I just want to empower babies, to know their names. And to know that there was worth to every single one of them. It is so planted in my heart. It is what I pray about in the morning. If God gives me a heart of Christ, where children are concerned, because I love children. I don’t want to see them abused. Don’t call them out in their names, even when it’s something that has really angered you. Take your time and breathe and say what you need to say to them soundly of course and everything. And I am a believer in spanking by. Yes, I got old school. Okay. The second thing, my desire to see children thrive and grow is from a very we’ll we’ll place because I’m five years old, I’m still

JE: And you have done it beautifully. Any time some your gift and I apologize that you felt that way as that child and I remember when I was going into education, my mother she was a teacher just retired a couple years ago and she always said it’s it’s yeah, a big blessing. My favorite teacher was my mom in it. Like, she always said, you know that one may need to see your face that you exists that you’ve done wrong in that role in two. I always thought of the words of Maya Angelou, they’ll never remember the lesson you taught them how you made them feel

VBN:that you made them feel

JE: Yes.And as an educator, and now you as an artist showing your work, you’re sending hope to those kids that felt small, you’re sending hope to those kids that sell to others. You know, what could you you know, I’m at the bookstore. I like yes, I would all the titles. Yep. And I was telling every cashier, I’m interviewing her on my podcast, like I said, Yes. You know, I want to share your work, because even back in the day when you illustrated that one love my mom. 

VBN:Yeah

JE: I had my first grade class, you know? 

VBN:Wow, wow

JE: No, you’re my fan girl moment. I’m like, Oh my gosh, but even thing. I’m just so honored and your work is just bright, and vibrant. And it’s so happy. It’s sharing, and even your solemn pictures that you have on your website. They make you think they make you get rooted down, you know, to understand your not the breadth and depth of your work. But even to switch gears on you’re just like me your book of poems. I just love how self affirming it is. And I feel like you were writing this to your younger Vanessa. Yeah. I mean, I’m just gonna quote one quick sentence from all I mean, there’s so many I love me mas wisdom it reminded me of my favorite that one and yes, oh my gosh, and yes, I am a canvas and just I even I have two you know, biracial boys and 14 and 11 and even reading it out to them you know, it’s just like yeah, there’s gonna be days where you’re not feeling it. You’re feeling you know, bluesy kind of way just to show you that yeah, it will get better you know and you have to be painted of your words is just beautiful. Warrior I mean went up in those moments I’m just like, I’m willing for a good fight to speak up and stand up for myself yeah, yeah good fight when love and oh, it’s just in Italia. I am like freaking out in a good way. Because how you have this this not just for girls only. I mean, you have a written in the girl’s voice. But all students can you know, take it every student can take away from it. Yes, every suit he can take away from it. Feelings are so many poems that teachers can write about analyze, and come up with you know, ideas of their own, you know, feelings after they’ve read it. That comfort of having your grandmother’s face to face conversations. over texting I’m Lea. And among those are the things that we need that human connection. And it brings me back to those moments with my grandma sitting on her lap and having her Sandy’s cookies, I can not go past the grocery store having Sandy’s cookies, you know, and I just love it and your paper, your paper chains is  just beautiful. Yeah, everybody needs to have that just like we’re holding each other pulling each other up. And I quote, and it’s a powerful link that we are together. It just culminates who we are as human beings, you know?

VBN: Absolutely, absolutely 

JE: I can’t get enough of your book. So please keep sharing more. Is there anything else that you would want educators to know, with your books, or anything that is in that multicultural literacy space that you would want them to know, like, strategy that they can do tomorrow?if 

VBN:Absolutely, you know, it’s important that we talk to each other? No, I’m not talking about Texan. I’m talking about really, you know, now that COVID is somewhat controlled to a degree conversation is necessary. It’s necessary for parents to really you know, I know you got in from work and you’re tired, and you don’t want to go to that school meeting or that PTA meeting. But this is where we get to talk to each other. And you get to hear the teacher, and the teacher gets to hear you. And hopefully we’re listening, where we’re not just talking at each other. But we really come in with an open heart to listen, because at the end of the day, it’s about the child. It’s about the child. We teach racism. We teach it, we teach it extensively. You know, when I hear parents say, well know where that came from. I’m walking through the supermarket. And this little boy says the N word. Mommy is that and she kind of looks at him like she Shut your mouth. You know, you don’t say things like that in public. You know and and she was in, I don’t know where he got that from none of that no wigs we got and get it from the teacher. He got it from yourself. For 25 years job as a professional phlebotomist, that’s the person who takes blood. And my specialty were children, women with cancer, people with AIDS, everything, nobody wants to be bothered. Okay, when you’re holding a premature baby in your hand, and I have tiny hands, and a baby can fit in my hands. And I’ve been when I tell you, I took care of children of every ethnicity that has walked this planet. I have, I’m taking care. Okay. The one thing that I’ve learned that’s what I want to leave with your listeners is, babies want three things, children, one of the things. Is there a clean diaper when I mess this one up? Right, or is there a bottle or breasted here with some milk in it? Are your arms in your heart strong enough to hold? Well, that’s all this other stuff? Oh, you think about slavery? Why babies were put on the black brush. But were treated like animals. Basically, the women were treated like animals. I’m doing what you should do for your own. 

JE: Yeah.

VBN: We need to break this thing of racism, and send it back to the pit of hell from once again, begin to see people as people get to know my character. Let them know who I am, before you just start jumping off with oh, they’re black. Oh, they’re white or Asian, Latino or Hispanic. So they had nothing. Oh, get to know me first. 

JE: Get to know me first. 

VBN:So the message that I want to leave them first of all is to all your educators. I appreciate every last one of you. You work so hard to put lessons together. And there are times you can’t teach your lesson. Because you got a parent. Student It takes away from you even tried to teach. But I want you all to know we appreciate there are a bunch of us that know the hard work that you all put in the late night the whole thing just wanting to see children succeed. I love you all. I thank you all I pray for you all that God would continue to cover you. When can you give me more money because you deserve it? Or that? Anywhere in where you want to go? You shouldn’t have to pay a dime.

JE: I know our educator friends are like Thank you. We feel seen because yeah, you can have the best boss, beautifully written lesson plan but something always happened. Okay, that away pivot, how do I keep it going? How do I still get my work in that my students need to achieve before they move on to the next grade. And I can tell you, they tip my hat. It’s a profession that is honored by the educators who do it every day. We just hoping that honor will be reciprocated by more people that have reciprocated it. We feel it. We love it. And we appreciate y’all because y’all keep us going in those trenches especially lovely. So I love my love. Yeah.Oh my goodness, this has been an amazing talk. Where can my listeners get your books? 

VBN:Absolutely. You can get my books at most indie bookstores. You can find it at Amazon and on Barnes and Nobles websites as well. You can always go to Penguin Books and find my books there. But I would love it if you would follow me over at Instagram at Vanessa Brantley newton.com. You can find me on Facebook at Vanessa Newton. And Vanessa Brantley Newton, I have actually two pages. And that’s about it for social media. But I also have a website of Vanessa Brantley newton.com, 

JE: I will put all of that information in our show notes too, as well. Oh, Vanessa, it’s such a blessing to get to know you and laugh with you and just cry with you and tear up with you with your most beautiful, heartwarming, inspiring stories. And you’re one of those students that you know, really did defeat and beat the odds of having someone say who you are, but you define it in your way. 

JE:Even when I went to Barnes and Noble in Duluth, Minnesota, your books are on those selves got going on last night. 

JE: I cannot thank you enough

VBN: Oh,  dear Thank you. Thank you.

JE: I’m honored to just share this chat with you today. So that’s all we have today, folks. And yes, I’ll see you next week. Bye bye.¬†

From the Podcast Archives: My conversation with Early Learning Coach Jamesetta Diggs

You’re listening to the cultural curriculum chat, the podcast that specializes in multicultural education and classroom strategies. I’m your host, Jebeh Edmunds, let’s get started.

Welcome cultural curriculum chat listeners, Jebeh Edmunds here, so excited to have in the guest here today, educatorJamesetta Diggs. Jamesetta is a Liberian mom of two ages nine and seven, and an early learning coach, who has enjoyed serving in the field for more than 20 years, working with families and young children in different capacities as a preschool teacher, trainer, family educator, and early childhood consultant. She also enjoys reading and teaching the concepts from children’s books. She is amazed how books has helped her discuss sensitive topics and life skills with her own children. This is the reason why she started Social Learning for littles two years ago to partner with families of young and early learning educators. Since she has started her business, social learning for littles has served more than 500 families with activities to support children’s social and emotional development. In 2021, she published her very first activity book titled passport around the world for early grades focused on exploring the world people differences and self acceptance. And in her free time, she loves to journal and enjoy nature with self care, and hanging out with her children at libraries, tools, and watching animated movies to Jamesetta. And so happy you’re on the show today. Welcome.

JD:Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to be here. 

JE:Oh, thank you. And I just wanted to share with you audience, Jim said and I met during the pandemic actually on the phone that my cousin introduced us shout out to Ngozi. She’s like, Oh, you’re in Minnesota as an educator, I want you to meet a dear dear friend of hers,Jamesetta Diggs. So I’m so excited to continue this chat and share with our audience, Jim Seta, you know, what is your story about education, especially with our young children?

JD:Well, I am so amazed at how children develop since I was young, I didn’t start off in education. I was actually going to school to be a counselor. So I was in Bible college and to become a Christian counselor. And I walked into the library one day, and I saw this book, child development, I’m like, and so I took it, I went home and I‚Äôd boarded. Like, I just went through the book. I was just like, wow, this is so amazing. And I’m just from that I went back home, I was studying in Ghana at the time, as a refugee, and I went back home to Liberia. And I was invited to this early childhood, like a workshop. And I was like, Okay, I went over and doing like, a group session, like a group discussion, I had an opportunity to share. And while I was sharing one of the facilitators during ROTC, she, you know, just like, and that’s how I’m here today. And since then, my journey started. And I’ve been here working with young children working with families, and it’s just been such a joy. You know, they say, Find something you love to do, and you don’t have to work a day in your life. So that’s where I’ve been in how I’m here.

JE:I love that Jamesetta Diggs. Because it is that spark, isn’t it like something that you had your path you had your mind going in one direction, and then That book changed everything, you know, for you. And so share with us tool with multicultural education. How do you tie that in with the young students with their social emotional learning needs?

JD:Being in the classroom has been so different for me, especially like coming to the US. I came to the US eight years ago with my family and it was a different like a different environment altogether. There was so many things to like, understand, it was confusing. It was like back pain that everybody’s Liberian, for a year. There’s so many different people. And so I walk into the classroom with this approach to like, take over the world like you want to bear to work with children, but then you start to see so many different things diversity, cultural languages, community, your home culture, so different in a classroom. You see how different people like living you start to understand Like, if you have to make an impact in children’s lives, you have to care enough to know where they’re coming from order to connect with them. That’s the only way they’re going to feel safe to be around you. They want to talk about the things they do at home, and you want to show them that you’re interested in what they do at home, that’s how . That’s how I begin to explore and learn and understand. And you cannot support a child, socially or emotionally if you are not connecting with them. And also understanding where they’re coming from. And supporting them socially, emotionally, even with your learning journey is based on how you connect and develop that relationship. And it has to be based on your background, and your why.

JE:Yeah, I totally agree with you, Jim said it, because it is the paramount of educators, we have to build those relationships. And I love how you talked about coming into the United States eight years ago. And it was a big learning curve, because you had to, you know, get to know your students through the various cultures of various backgrounds. Because as a student, if you don’t know my authentic self, who I am as you student, how are we going to have me feel safe enough to learn what you’re going to show me, right?

JD:Yes, that’s it. Exactly. And that’s the approach, that’s the only way we’ll be able to like those little lives and show them, they love their teachers, they love their learning environment, they also need to know that they’re safe, they’re respected for where they come from, like it, it makes a big difference in a child’s life, if they come to school, and you can say all that, or you can say olla you are you can say  something in your language that like just like something like that spark, you know, or you can ask them or show them a picture of something that is from their culture, and they can relate is so amazing.

JE:It is amazing. And also that you took the time to learn a greeting, you took the time to find that picture. And that child just sits a little taller, because they finally feel seen, they feel validated, that you see them for who they are, and where they are, you know, socially and emotionally too I think educators need to be and accept that each child, you know, needs to be accepted for who they are in where they are emotionally. I feel like some of us educators, we get so motivated and like, yes, I want to do all the things and some littles are like, oh, hold up, we just met, we met a week ago, like I’ve just first six weeks, like I’m just still trying to get to know you. But eventually you’re right, that relationship and that bond that you have with that student gets stronger throughout the year. And I love that tip that you’re sharing with our listeners that yeah, some little strategies that’s quick, actionable, you can find stuff on Google Translate to find the language that they speak at home to share as a greeting. When you do your morning meetings and stuff with your students. little simple things can go a long way.

JD:Yeah, in connecting like when children can connect like they’re exactly what we’re seeing is that they’re different children in the classroom. So like a child will, the way a family is putting their child to bed is different from how the other family is putting your child to bed. So if you see two children playing in a play area, and you see another child is king, your baby, and another one, just live them there to go to bed. And they’re like, looking at it a confused level. That’s where you connect them because you’re now in a position to teach that they’re both different. And by teaching them ,how differently they are, and but they’re also like important and so special, that’s a different way we do it, you’re helping them connect to another family. And also you’re enriching your idea of how different the world is. So like creating that opportunity for children to connect and feel safe, is such a big deal goes a long way. In this subject of diversity, the subject of equity that we’re talking about. It starts right there, those little things that we do in the classroom with our little ones.

JE:Yes. And also Jamesetta, can you share to the importance of catching our little ones with equity and multicultural education as them being little to give that foundation because I feel like a lot of us  adults that aren’t in the educational space are saying, well, we’ll get to that diversity when we get there. Right. I mean, kids are seeing people by their skin color. Very young. I remember when my oldest was three could tell you know, skin tone differences. So what can we share with those parents and girls? mumps out there, why it’s so important to have these discussions in early childhood with, like you said, how a mother cares for their babies? Like, how can we share with them how important it is to start those conversations. at that early age.

JD:One of the things I would say Java is I like to teach children to books. That’s basically what I do as an early learning coach, and books. They’re such great opportunities for children to learn, and discuss and understand, like difficult concepts. So if I come to a child and try to clean it, oh, everybody is different. What does that mean to a child. But as children learn by the books they read, by the way we interact with them, they’re in a classroom of children of different skin color, I know my son used to say Korean people. And so they’re in the classroom with different skin colors, skin tones and different languages. So as we talk about, we read books, as we read books in the see the pictures, how another friend says, Hola, how another friend says, bonjour, how another friend say Good day, or another friend, say morning, or whatever they’re seeing those things. They’re seeing the examples. And one thing I will always encourage parents to do is to talk about those things. Do not hold back, because as you create awareness for your child, there is a string, there is a line, creating awareness not only sparks all that confidence in your child, but then you extend it to the point where your child become an advocate for another child becomes an advocate for themselves, they become like the seat justice. That’s where equity comes in. Because they know that we’re different, but we’re the scene where equal array, we’re in the same classroom, we share the same books, we share the same toys, everything is available to us. So that puts our children in a place to be able to understand, oh, this is what it is, rather than just taking that big woe is diversity, we’re going to talk about it, you don’t understand what it is they do in different ways, by examples, in different ways, by everyday things that we do in the classroom, our lifestyles, the way we talk to them, we interact with them that the way we connect them to stuff. And so all of those things play a big role in your lives, in helping them understand teach diversity to them, and helping them understand that whole concept of diversity and equity.

JE:Often, Jamesetta , you nailed it, my dear. Yes, all of the things. And I feel like you said with that string of learning, they see the examples in the book, it’s a great conversation starter, you’ve got students that when they come into my classroom, you know, when I used to teach fifth grade, they had the foundation already laid in place from the beginning. And then it gives them like you said, that confidence to advocate for themselves, and to advocate for their classmates that don’t look like them speak like them, think like them, it all just comes together. When we start at the very beginning off, you are so right. And I know, because we are I know, it’s like we’re cut from the same educational multicultural educational club. So our kids have, you know, the big library at home that is very rich in diversity. My question for you, Jamesetta , as a parent, what have you experienced with your children, when it comes to multicultural educational space?

JD:There’s been a lot when I first came to the to this country, my son was almost two. So there was this preschool part of it. And there are lots of programs that I didn’t know what to do. Like, there was like Valentine. And they would have like, fall parties and all these parties. I did not know what was expected. I did things in a way like and then after, I’ll be like, Oh, that’s how it it’s done. So like, in that space, I understand how families feel like when I work in the classroom, and I started working in the classroom, I understood like if up here and like some of the African parents would come and some of our teachers we wonder like, I wonder they taught the message right? And I would explain like when I was a period in preschool, I understand what what this parent is coming from because the way we get the message is totally different. So sometimes is really important. Ask the parent after you send all those communications is important that experience did you remember I send it Do you have any questions? Are you okay? Are you with everything? Is there anything I can explain? I know sometimes you’re afraid because you’re thinking that you don’t want to sound pushy, or you don’t want to sound like you’re crossing the line. But it’s always good to check in. Specially with our culture, background families, like families that are culturally different. You have to check in with them to understand how are they receiving the message. So those are some of the things that really like, came to me as a parent when I came here. How is it done here? I knew I had to learn it. So now with my daughter, I was like, Oh, yeah. Oh, how is dark? Because I’ve experienced it. So like, I always try to be an advocate for families and African founders, until the year did you know that this is what they wanted, and can do checking to ask the teacher what they wanted. So that’s phase of checking the educators checking back, understand what they’re actually sending ads, I definitely will see. Because it happens.

JE: And you know, to the assumption as educators of well, they speak English, they’re just going to go along with what we do. And so even just take a minute or two to research, not everybody celebrates Halloween. Not everybody goes and has turkey for Thanksgiving. Not everybody has these types of Americanized rituals and traditions. So in the classroom, in a funny story, I came when I was two, and I was the guinea pig for my mom and dad. Okay, look, I did the same. You know, I remember my mom, she will never tell the stage um, Zetta get a pumpkin for Halloween, because she had the Enter Headstart, like you’re gonna have to make a Jacqueline earning, cut and do that with the pumpkin with the night. And she said, I cry, you’re killing my pumpkin. She goes to this day, I’m 42 and a half, she’s like, I will never have pumpkin in this house again, because she was like, I don’t know what to do. We’ve never had Halloween in Liberia. But that assumption, it’s Halloween, we’re gonna make our jacket lanterns. Let’s do this. And she said for her to like, feel like she’s traumatizing her child. As an educator, we just have the assumptions of hip, here’s a little sheet, a little craft, you bring home and do it with your parents or your grown up at home. And everything is good. And as an immigrant parent going, oh my gosh, I am traumatizing my child has.

JD: And I And Greg to go like what you’re saying with the holidays and everything? Just like what would it be like? If you asked children? What did you have for Thanksgiving? You know, draw what you have for Thanksgiving instead of everybody bring you home with Turkey. Like I know our family. They were so stressed over like getting a turkey. And I always tell my children, it’s a holiday, we’re making an African dish. And everybody’s so excited about having an African dish because like you don’t always get to make African there’s so there’s a holiday we’re home. That’s making African dish, making no turkey. So when you come back, my daughter said I would draw the chicken feed I say whatever. Just let them know. That’s what we have. And it’s what we do in our family.

JE: And yeah, and even you said special occasion. We’re with our families. This is our special occasion feasts that we have, you know, and I think for students to share what they have at their table and be excited that it’s not always going to be the same menu in every household. Right? And that’s what makes our classroom unique. Ah, I tell you Yeah, so I love how you shared so far,Jamesetta , greetings, getting to understand your students from all the various backgrounds and celebrating that starting those conversations with books proactively and reactively. When things come about what else I really want you to kind of share with our audience more about your business and connecting families with that social emotional cross cultural learning.

JD: I started, like I said, we always read books were educators. We got the kids making the bugs reading the books. We always read books During COVID, my daughter was like, she was so bored. And she was so like, restless, there was so much that we couldn’t do. And we started exploring the books that we had. And while we were exploring, I started like, making informations out of those stories. So like, I asked her one day, like, this book that we read, what can you say about yourself? Like, how can you affirm yourself in his book using I am, and then she went on and on and I am special I am I am. I’m like, wow, this is amazing. So then we started reading books every night. And then we will go through like the affirmations. And then I’ll ask, okay, what did we use I sentences. And then we started using I have I, am, I will, and then it started coming to me. So that’s how I develop social learning for littles with the everyday possibilities using the books. Because in every book, if we use I am, it creates that position for the child to affirm them. So that’s self awareness. That’s self care. And then I have children start to practice gratitude, what they focus on what they have, rather than what they don’t. And then we started to see, I can’t like if there’s using canned sentences, and then I will then say, well, this can help them set goals if they’re saying I will. So I developed this framework called the everyday possibilities framework with books that I use with my children. So every time we read the book, I started bringing out these statements and these questions for feedback, rather than what is the story about what did you learn from the story? What if we ask questions about how we felt about the story? What if we ask questions? If you were in the story, how would you solve the problem? Right, those kinds of questions, and then it started to go on. And with every book, I started to see more and more of these things with my children. So during difficult times, and during challenging times, and that started coming back in everyday life and everyday skills. And it started reflecting I started to see the effect of books in my children’s lives. I’m like, Well, this is important for other families, how many families can I encourage to do this with their children. So I developed that growth mindset framework. And I started to share it, and I posted it all over social media, and there was like, people were so like, interested in it. And they wanted to know, so that’s how I developed like the program for social learning for littles and then continue with the books and everything. So that’s the story behind that.

JE: Oh ,I love that you set up because I have that’s how I’ve been following your whole journey and your affirmation cards that you can frame and put up in your house. And the books you’re suggesting with the littles and just your whole philosophy. And I love that with their self affirmations, their goals, and what they want to do to keep going forward. And like you said, there will be times in our children’s lives where they’re going to be stuck, and to retell about a story that you had that with your child, and having those conversations opens up their confidence to be themselves and feel like they’re in that safe space with you. And seeing you guide them along the way. That’s just so powerful. Yeah, now that’s amazing. 

JD: And remember our whole story during the George Floyd situation, the books helped me it was a difficult time. It was not a time I could hide it from my children. My daughter was five, turning five at the time. My son was around seven at that time, how would I discuss these things with my children? So I use stories about writing stories about justice, stories about racism, like books that have been written, and I’m so grateful for the books that are out there before 10 years ago, our children wouldn’t have had access to these things. So I always encourage educators, I know we have all of these great books that we have from the past that we have in our classrooms, but they’re great books coming out. Use those books. Talk about these things with your children. Develop a study around some of these topics. Make it like fun in the classroom, to story cards, ask questions, explore tick them outside do like an exploration with the book and learn the concepts and the things that the books are teaching these children. There’s so much embedded in this. I know we’re not bookworms, my kids love so many other things, but they’re just like that part that have worked for me and I believe can work for so many families, culturally, because there are so many books that are multi cultured. There are so many diverse books. And so it’s so important that we can find these lay our hands on these and use them for our children’s bright future for their noun their development, their growth, their learning. In everything, .

JE:Yeah. Oh, yes. And like you said 10 years ago, we didn’t have half of the books that we have right now. And yes, when the George Floyd murder happened, it was we were all as parents grieving. And as black people going through that trauma again. And books were the way to have those conversations with your children in a safe setting where they can ask questions, and go through it together. Offense is awesome. And yeah, all I always wholeheartedly tell my teacher, friends, if it’s older than 15 years old, you got to do some pruning, because there’s tons of new titles out there that are waiting to be in your classroom. And a lot of things like I tell my former students to the more you know, the more you grow, and there’s some books that haven’t grown and learned some years.  So there’s some times you just might need to recycle some things and get some new titles, new characters, and new biographies of people that are in the now that are current in our students development as well. Oh, my goodness, this is awesome.Jamesetta , one more question. Before we go. You’ve given us so many great tips and tricks. Is there anything else you would like our listeners to do with your work? How can they follow you and find you?

JD:I’m on Facebook and Instagram. And I also have a website social learning for littles.com. There, I use it as a blog site where I share the books that I read with my children or with my small groups. So the books are on there. And if they’re looking to find books, the one book lists List of books or have books, they want a future let me know about it. So yes, if you look up social learning for littles, you will find me that’s me. And I love sharing my journey. I love encouraging families. I love working with families. I love working with educators. It’s been a joy in this space of learning and growth in everything that we’ve been doing so far. I just want to encourage everyone out there, just be aware of who you are. Be conscious of where you’re at. Don’t make assumptions. Everybody’s different. And just create opportunities to connect with other people and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask that you offend. If you think you’re offending somebody, you can apologize or ask them a better way still ask. You never know people say the stranger who asked never misses the way. So that’s really important. Ask questions, don’t make assumptions, and just connect with people. You never know what you know, I have so many friends from different backgrounds and different races that I love. And I enjoy spending time with. 

JE: So yeah, that is it. It’s like you said that authentic human connection that goes a long way to understanding who we really are. Yeah. Oh, goodness. And yes, listeners, I will put all of Jamesetta information in the show notes so you can continue to follow her journey because it’s an amazing one. And the books you have shown a girl I have purchased them myself to share with my nieces and nephews. And yes, I really love your book recommendations. 

JD: I have a present  for you. Actually, do I have a book that’s on its way from Liberia? Written by one of our really own good, hard work in Brenda Moore. And so I got three, she got three of her books that’s coming to me.

So I’m a huge fan of Brenda Moore. Rand is only fangirling right now, though. Yeah,

you’re getting one of her books. I will send one over to you. I have one for my library. And I’m thinking about how I can share the third one.

JE:But yes, just I didn’t want to say it. But I have to kind of cry thing here and shout it to Brenda Moore. And yeah, another amazing writer and multicultural educational guru based in Liberia. And I tell you, my grandfather used to say this was his biggest mantra was you educate a man you educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, she will educate her whole community. And that has been I tell you the reason why I’ve done this business and sharing as much multicultural resources that I can. And I’m just honored to be walking alongside you jamesetta carrying that charge of bringing more multicultural education on resources to all of our families. So I’m honored to speak with you today.

JD:Thank you, you inspired me every day everywhere is diverse and just teaching those concepts and those truths about it is so important so it inspires me I tell you like it really does a keep doing what you’re doing. It’s very important.

JE: Thank you oh, means a lot and yes guests thanks for listening and will see you next time on  the cultural curriculum chat. 

Hair Love Book Review

I’m so excited that you are here with us today. And I’m going to share a poignant heart tugging gives you all the feels picture book titled hair love, written by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison. The reason for picking this book is that the main character Zuri, Swahili, is beautiful, and she is getting ready for her day. And she has a lot on her mind, but it just talks about how she revels in her natural hair in her coils. And in the story, she loves having her hair and different styles.

For example, She loves her funky braids and beads and feels like a princess. She says her daddy tells her she’s beautiful, which makes her feel so good. It’s so reaffirming. And it shows how even her hairstyle is more sir into a different persona. For example, she feels like a superhero when her hair’s in two puffs to Afro pub. And some days, she hangs out to have magical moments on Sundays when she gets up for her daily routine. She’s going to figure out how I am going to do my hair. And she’s looking online for tutorials and things like that. But her Daddy needs to help. And the beautiful thing about this book is that she wants her hair to look good to make her feel good about herself. And this dad has no idea. Bless his heart. And he’s trying his hardest.

And he’s trying to see what kinds of ways I can help my daughter Zuri. And Zuri is just like, Whew, okay, let’s see how this will go down. Dad’s trying, you know, and it reminds me of the one time I could remember my core memory. When my Father, the late Emmett Metzger, tried to do my hair. And I remember he had all my hair slides and ties, pulling and pushing. And I ended up with one braid. Off the top of my head just stuck straight up to the sky. But he tried, and it reminds me of Zuri’s dad of him trying as hard to get his daughter’s hair done to enjoy and make her feel so good on the inside and outside.

And we even did his homework. And that’s what I think is neat because I didn’t want to give away too much when mom was away at a time. It was nice to see that Dad took the time to cultivate in making sure that Zuri’s hair was protected and still regal at the same time. And why I picked this book for your audience is so many of us in the BIPOC community with our natural hair, we need to have you all understand that it takes a lot of time. Our hair is very delicate. It’s easily breakable, and we use ways to protect our hair.

So it can grow and thrive in some things where people might be asking, wow, Jeb, you had braids in your hair one day. And now you have it in twists, or now you have it in puffs, or you have it out natural as a little mini Afro a TWA. And there are some things that we love to change it up. We love to change our hairstyles. But we also know that it takes a lot of care and patience with our hair. And I think educators can use this book to show all of our kids the different styles in the BIPOC community with our hair and our natural hair care. But it also shows the importance of how we value our hair.

There’s an old African American saying that says our hair is our crowning glory. And my touch on that is in a crown should be seen and not touched. So when you are an elementary school educator, and you are reading this book to your students, please reiterate to your students, especially your African American students in your classroom, that it does not permit anybody to touch their hair. Their hair is their crowning glory. I can’t tell you how many times I was a student, people would want to touch my hair and put sand in my hair. or felt like I was on display. And even as an adult, even as a teacher, some colleagues would come up to me and ask to touch my hair.

I felt very tokenized when I had colleagues coming up and wanting to touch my hair. So having books like hair love opens up that conversation of the respect of natural black hair and opens the door for all kids to see the different hairstyles and the pride that comes with it. So I highly recommend this book, Hair Love by Matthew Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison. They also have an animated short that goes along with it. And what I love about this animated short, it doesn’t have much dialogue.

Still, you can see in their nonverbal cues and communication how the Father loves his daughter and his determination to get the hairstyles just right, just like the mom did. And so, I highly recommend reading the book first and then showing the animated short; you’ll love both of them. So highly recommend this book. Please share this blog post with people that love their natural hair, and share it with a friend who might be curious about natural hair and the different styles that go with it. Thank you so much.

Barack Book Review

In honor of President’s Day, I’m going to share a great book about our first African-American President, Barack Obama.

This book, titled Barack, is a beautiful biography for students written by Jonah Winter. Illustrated by AG Ford. This story is beautiful and impactful, and it talks about our first African American president. Um, it talks about how Barack went on his own unique journey. Self-identity and belonging.

We’ve been talking a lot about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, and this really does share and showcase what it means to belong. AG Ford has some beautiful illustrations about Young Barack as a baby, where he was born and grew up in Indonesia, and it parallels Barack Obama’s. He wrote a memoir called Dreams of My Father, but that’s for more grownups now.

Also talks about reuniting with his father at the age of 10 and belonging to that self-identity that many children of color have to go through. It talks about where he found himself in the community and his campaign to become the first African American president, the 44th president. So I would love for you to get this book in honor of Black History Month and to showcase another true trailblazer as our first African American president, Barack Obama.

If you’d like to learn and order more lesson plans that are culturally appropriate for your classroom, be sure to stop by my website, jebehedmunds.com/shop. You can find many multicultural activities that are companions to many lessons I’ve learned.