Actress Kerry Washington, a proud mother of three, is looking to change the way Black History is taught to children.
Kerry Washington shares three kids with her husband, former NFL star Nnamdi Asomugha: 6-year-old Isabelle Asomugha, 3-year-old Caleb Asomugha and Nnamdi’s daughter from a previous relationship. On a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Washington spoke about how Black History education for many children consists mostly of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement and largely ignores the Black History that preceded it, noting the “kingdoms of Ghana” and the “pyramids of Egypt.” Washington explained that children, particularly Black children like hers, need to be taught “the richness of Black History before refusing to be put in the back of the bus.”
“The thing I’ve been thinking about a lot, honestly, with my kids—and with my friends’ kids—I’ve been thinking a lot about education and a lot about talking about race and introducing ideas of race,” said Washington. “And really thinking about the idea that for a lot of kids—kids are introduced to race at Black History Month or in the concept of change-makers like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. And I think it’s really important that we start to introduce the idea of race with a Black History that begins before teaching kids about what Black people were told they couldn’t do, right?”
“So, there’s Maasai Warriors and the kingdoms of Ghana and Queen Nefertiti and the pyramids of Egypt,” continued Washington. “But this idea of teaching kids that Black History and Black people were a lot of things before segregation and Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement. So that we understand the beautiful complexity and elegance and richness of Black History, before refusing to be put in the back of the bus.”
Kerry Washington also discussed the conversations about racism she has at home and encouraged Black families to discuss racism, saying: “There’s a lot of posts about privilege looks like discovering that racism exists as opposed to knowing that it exists,” says Washington. “So, I think for a lot of Black families, we don’t have the privilege of ignoring what’s going on and pretending that it’s not happening.”