Want to support Black Lives Matter? Here’s where to start in Pittsburgh.
The Black Lives Matter demonstrations and protests over the past two weeks have prompted many of us to consider that it’s no longer appropriate to simply not be a racist. We need to be proactive as anti-racists. We need to acknowledge that our idea of “normal” is by no means a universal truth. Our eyes have opened to the importance of talking about race and supporting anti-racist actions.
More people are educating themselves on the subject. Anti-racist books, for example, are suddenly climbing bestseller lists and have quickly become some of the top titles on reserve at local libraries.
For parents, the first step is to start with our children. We’ve gathered some terrific resources to get those conversations started and ways to take action.
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
The Carnegie Library created Here to Help: Community Resources to guide and support families. The Talking About Race with Kids and Teens section will help initiate and navigate conversations. Visit the Anti-racism Resource Collection for ideas on how to undo prejudice in our community. The Black Lives Matter section offers toolkits on a variety of topics, such as conflict resolution. Adults and kids will find intriguing and enlightening reading from the curated booklists, like this age-by-age booklist for kids on race.
The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh
Kids are witness to tragic events happening in the news, but they don’t always have the understanding to express their feelings about those events. The Children’s Museum gathered resources to help kids to ask questions and gain a better understanding of the world around them. Direction comes from reliable sources like Embrace Race, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the National Center for Grieving Children and Families.
Sesame Street CNN Town Hall
The gang from Sesame Street teamed up with CNN last weekend to present a town hall meeting called “Coming Together: Standing Up To Racism,” which was informative and helpful. Questions asked by kids and parents from across the country (and even Muppets!) were answered by experts, such as Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Dr. Nia Heard-Gains of the American Academy of Pediatrics and Jeannette Betancourt of Sesame Workshop. The discussion is kid-friendly with thoughtful explanations and advice.
PBS Kids hosted a special event for parents called “Talking to Children Authentically About Race and Racism.” Child development experts, teachers and parents shared ways to discuss current events, civil rights and racism with kids. Coming from this tried-and-true organization, the program provides insightful and supportive direction. Pittsburgh educator Will Tolliver moderated the panel that includes Jamal Berry of Educare DC, Dr. Renee Wilson-Simmons of ACE Awareness Foundation and Dr. Dana Winters from Fred Rogers Early Learning Center. The live event was recorded and shared on the PBS Kids for Parents YouTube channel.
The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
The Smithsonian Museum just released a new web portal on “Talking About Race.” The website includes digital tools, video instruction and online exercises, along with more than 100 multi-media resources. The information is tailored to parents, educators and individuals. You can sign in here.
OTHER WAYS TO BE AN ANTI-RACIST FAMILY
Dine at Black-owned restaurants.
Kids will love seeking out new places to eat and venturing off your regular path into undiscovered neighborhoods. Here are a handful of Black-owned eateries to get you started. (Order curbside pickup or delivery until full-service dining reopens.)
Carmi Soul Food has long been a favorite destination for shrimp and grits, chicken and waffles, and fried catfish with a side of mac & cheese.
Find tasty lunch options like wraps and soup at Arnold’s Tea on E. Ohio St.
Dine at Everyday Café, operated by the Bible Center Church, where earnings are invested in Homewood-based causes. Try the sweet potato tartlet, BBQ chicken flatbread or a hot grilled panini.
Satisfy that sweet tooth with a visit to the Fudge Farm for one of the overloaded Mania Milkshakes or creamy fudge. And you can’t go wrong with a box of treats from Dana’s Bakery, which has been in business for over 30 years.
Learn the history of Black Pittsburgh.
Context is everything. Explore Heinz History Center’s “From Slavery to Freedom” exhibit online until you can visit the museum when it reopens on July 1. The story of Negro League Baseball is worth exploring, too. Pittsburgh’s two teams – the Homestead Grays and Pittsburgh Crawfords – dominated the sports on a national level.
The Teenie Harris Archive at the Carnegie Museum of Art can also be viewed online. Charles “Teenie” Harris shot more than 70,000 images during his tenure as a photographer for the Pittsburgh Courier. Nearly 60,000 negatives are now digitized and available to search and view. Watch the short film about Teenie’s legacy, documenting life in Black Pittsburgh, and click on past curated photo exhibits.
Watch for specialty tours from Door Opens Pittsburgh, such as Rockin the Burgh: Black Music Tour, Houses of Freedom: Black Church Tour and Freedom Seekers: Underground Railroad Tour.
The Young Preservationists Association of Pittsburgh compiled the information to create an interactive map of Black history sites in Pittsburgh, from the Underground Railroad to famous people to the height of the jazz era.
Saturday Light Brigade heads efforts to compile the oral history of Black neighborhoods through programs like Crossing Fences and Girl Talk. The interviews, conducted by kids, reached out to a wide number of leaders and residents who give personal accounts of their communities.
Support Black culture in Pittsburgh.
The August Wilson African American Cultural Center covers artistic expression in Black dance, music, theater and art. Until theaters resume programming, the center hosts Lit Fridays on the last Friday of the month. These literary-focused salons feature conversations and guest performances via Facebook Live and Zoom. Some episodes might not be appropriate for younger kids.
The center’s free Summer Youth Writers Camp moves online this year, beginning June 22. Kids ages 11-15 will find inspiration from the works of August Wilson.
Nurturing and presenting local playwrights, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company works within a racially and culturally diverse community of talent. Past playwrights presented include August Wilson, Mark Clayton Summers, Tammy Ryan, George S. Kaufman and Rob Penny. The next season has not yet been announced due to the pandemic.
Staycee Pearl dance project and Soy Sos develop their multi-media, dance-centered works at PearlArts Studio. The studio offers educational outreach, community classes, movement residencies and creative collaborations. PearlArts dance project schedules full-blown performances with vibrant choreography, too. The studio has created a collection of anti-racism resources worth exploring.