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After 22 Years, “A Black Parent’s Handbook” is Still Empowering Black Parents Across America

Baruti Kafele

Baruti Kafele

Back in 1990, after only two years of teaching in Brooklyn, NY and East Orange, NJ respectively, renowned educator, Baruti Kafele had the audacity to write a handbook for Black parents to assist them with educating their children. He entitled the book, A Black Parent’s Handbook to Educating Your Children (Outside of the Classroom). He consequently left the classroom temporarily after his first two years of teaching to devote his life to getting A Black Parent’s Handbook into the hands of thousands of parents throughout the U.S. In 1992, he returned to the classroom but continued to devote a substantial amount of energy to promoting A Black Parent’s Handbook and it eventually became an Essence Magazine number one best seller in 2002. It is now in its 22nd year of empowering a whole new generation of Black parents.

Kafele says that the motivation for writing this book was that he was meeting and working with so many well-intentioned parents who wanted to assist their children through the educational process but simply didn’t know what to do or where to start. He frowns upon the notion that parents are not involved or don’t want to be involved in their children’s lives, educationally speaking. He instead asserts that parents absolutely want to be involved but are simply in need of strategies that they can easily and readily implement during the time that their children are at home.

A Black Parent’s Handbook is not a long book — it’s only 74 pages. It’s not a difficult read either. Instead, it is a guide providing strategies and suggestions for parents to utilize toward the educational growth and development of their children and should be referred to regularly. Over the past 22 years, parents have shared with Kafele that they literally raised their children on the contents of this book.

At the core of A Black Parent’s Handbook is the chapter that addresses reading for success. Kafele has argued for the past 22 years that in education, we can have the best schools, best curriculum, best teachers and best teaching strategies, but if Black children are not being exposed to who they are, both historically and culturally, then we are spinning our wheels at best. He argues that when Black children are exposed to “who they are,” we increase the probability exponentially that they will have the will to strive for excellence because by exposing them to “their story,” we are essentially helping them to develop a purpose for learning, rooted in the greatness of who they are historically. Kafele says, “I want them to see and understand where they stand along the continuum of history to help them to better understand their roles in life moving forward.”

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