Kidsburgh: P.R.I.D.E. Festival helps African-American kids embrace their heritage

A special festival is helping give African-American children a sense of pride in their heritage.

“P.R.I.D.E.” stands for Positive Racial Identity Development in early education, and it’s a program with the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development. The goal of the P.R.I.D.E. festival is to help young black children embrace their racial heritage with dignity, love and fun through African arts.

Medina Jackson with the P.R.I.D.E. program explains, “When our children have a better racial identity, they’re better as people, they’re better as students and achievers. They learn better problem-solving techniques and better behavior because they’re rooted in who they are.”

The first festival was in July in East Liberty, but there are two more: Saturday, Aug. 25 from 12-4 p.m. at the Homewood YMCA and Saturday, Sept. 15 in the Hill District in the parking lot of Hug Me Tight.

It’s geared toward kids ages 3 to 8. It may seem young to need this, but it’s not.

“Our children are having racialized experiences and encounters, saying to each other, ‘Your skin is too dark or hair too kinky, and feeling bad about that,” Jackson said.

P.R.I.D.E. works to change the narrative. The program trains artists and others in developmentally appropriate approaches to racial identity.

At the festival, kids make New Orleans-inspired masks they’ll wear in a parade, Ghanian clothes called “kentes,” and they’ll learn African dancing. Of course like most family festivals, there’s also face painting, a bounce house and food.

“It’s a mix between a black arts festival, a Children’s festival and a neighborhood party,” Jackson said.