Monday, January 11, 2021

Book Nook: Raising Confident Black Kids

Raising Confident and Empowered Black Kids includes everything Black and multi-racial families need to know to raise empowered, confident children. From the realities of living while Black to age-appropriate ways to discuss racism with your children, educator M.J. Fievre provides a much-needed esource for parents of Black kids everywhere.

It’s hard to balance protecting your child’s innocence with preparing them for the realities of Black life. When―and how―do you approach racism with your children? How do you protect their physical and mental health while also preparing them for a country full of systemic racism? On the heels of Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria and “Multiplication Is for White People”comes a parenting book specifically for parents of Black kids.

Now, there’s a guide to help you teach your kids how to thrive―even when it feels like the world is against them. From racial profiling and police encounters to the whitewashed lessons of history taught in schools, raising Black kids is no easy feat. In Raising Confident and Empowered Black Kids, teacher M.J. Fievre passes on the tips and guidance that have helped her educate her Black students

The book can be found on Amazon and Bookshop.

I had a chance to interview the author to learn more.


  1. Why did you write this book?

I’ve been watching the mood of the country and the unwarranted deaths of Black people like Eric Garner, Philando Castile, and Breonna Taylor, and the backlash after their deaths, and it occurred to me that we’re not having honest conversations about race. I wanted to raise awareness about racism and give parents tools they can use to keep their kids safe, while arming them with strategies they can use to raise children who resist racism and are confident in their skin. 

  1. Why is it important for Black parents to have a parenting guide targeted specifically to them?

Raising a Black child is a little different than raising a child of any other race. There are conversations parents of Black kids must have with their kids that other parents don’t have to initiate with their children. There are plenty of parenting guides that have been published and are useful for parents of all races of children, but I wanted to see the conversation narrow a little bit when talking to parents of Black children because raising a Black child is more fraught with complication, and I wasn’t seeing those conversations taking place as openly as I’d like. 

  1. How can parents who aren't Black support policies and initiatives that help make communities stronger for people of all backgrounds?

They can do some research and vote for candidates who support programs geared towards empowering Black communities and fighting gentrification. They can support Black-owned businesses and organizations that work with the Black community. They can listen to BIPOC when they speak out against injustices in their communities and believe them when they say they are experiencing racism, and then stand up for what’s right, whether by contacting their representatives or attending a rally or protest. They can donate to causes that support BIPOC communities and initiatives.

  1. How can Black parents find supportive communities wherever they live?

I don’t think it’s always easy to find a supportive community. We’re still very segregated in the United States, despite the repeal of Jim Crow laws. And schools are more segregated now than they were in the 70s when we were bussing. But a big step in finding a supportive community is to go out and learn about your neighborhood. Walk the streets, meet your neighbors, know the people who live on your block, and if there isn’t a supportive community there, try building one. Host a Neighborhood Watch program. Throw a block party (when it’s safe again to do so). Likeminded people will find you. 

  1. How can white parents support BIPOC families in their community?

I think the biggest thing white parents can do is to listen to parents of Black children when they speak out about racism or inequity. Let other people have the floor for a few minutes and really listen to what they have to say. Another thing white parents can do is to make sure that their social circles are integrated with a diverse group of people of all colors and backgrounds, and teach their children to respect BIPOC and have a diverse group of friends themselves. Children learn through modeling, so it’s important to model anti-racism to white children. Talk about the news with kids; they aren’t clueless to what’s going on. Teach them history, and take them to protests and rallies to support Black speakers and activists.

A creator of safe spaces, and an initiator of difficult conversations, M.J. Fievre, B.S. Ed, spent much time building up her Black students, helping them feel comfortable in their skin, and affirming their identities. Her close relationships with parents and students led her to look more closely at how we can balance protecting our child’s innocence with preparing them for the realities of Black life. When―and how―do you approach racism with your children? How do you protect their physical and mental health while also preparing them for a country full of systemic racism? She began to research the issue and speak to school counselors and psychologists to find (and apply!) strategies parents and teachers can use with their children to broach uncomfortable but necessary topics.

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