Monday, October 6, 2008

Harambee Village

Last night we went to the first of a series of workshops at Harambee Village. Harambee Village was started by Deb Reisner, the mother of 6 children, including 4 teenagers. She started it six years ago when she realized white parents with black children need resources, support, and black role models for their children. She says the first meeting they had five families. Within two months there were 250 families and by the end of 2006 the group had served more than a thousand families in Minnesota. I had no idea there were so many families out there like ours.

The group we go to meets two hours on the first Sunday of every month. They split the kids into age groups and the parents go and have their own meeting. As I looked around the room, I saw myself. Normal looking people around my age, with young children, some of us not sure how we got here and had no idea how much education we needed on the African American community. Others had been coming from the beginning, one family drives 150 miles, from "Whiteville" as they lovingly put it, to attend meetings.

As always with something new Abegail was skepical. But E-man and Annie dove right into their area, new toys and trucks, and lots of kids who look like them or who are in the same boat as Annie. Harambee views it as an opportunity for white children to be in the minority, which they are at these events. For them to get a taste of how their siblings feel.

For Abegail, she immediately made a new friend, a Somali girl who was adopted through the state of Minnesota. They also made pages for their life books focusing on famous families who have lots of color in them.

The biggest lesson of the night: you can give your kids everything in the world, but you can never be black. So they will need to see black adults as positive role models in professional roles. It is a journey.

I know I'm so lucky to have this resource just 15 minutes from our home. We are looking forward to learning a lot and finding new friends and mentors for all of us.

Quotes from Annie:

Mommy, this has been a great day!


Anonymous said...

So proud of you to make this effort -- it just demonstrates your deep commitment to these children (beyond the survival and family necessities). And with our national election, A & E (and all of us)have a national role model like in their own country! Mom R.

Shelby and Lori said...

I am so jealous of this group! How long would it take us to drive for the meetings??

Andries said...

We're registered for November! See you there?!