As troubling images of African-Americans are perpetuated in media and as outrage surrounding the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, persists, one company is aiming to uplift young children of color with educational tools.
California teachers Leilani Brooks and Stevi Meredith co-created ABC Me Flashcards, a company dedicated to empowering children through history and reading. The first edition of alphabet flash cards features figures and themes celebrating African American history.
“The biggest challenge facing black children to day is the media. We cannot afford to allow our children to derive their self image from the images the dominant culture chooses to share… We must build our children up, empower them with their history, and inspire them to be great.”
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Since the temporary close of Ferguson public schools and their subsequent reopening on Monday, Brooks and Meredith have sent over two dozen sets of cards to the Ferguson Municipal Public Library and local schools in the area.
“Ferguson is a reminder of the world we live in. It can be ugly, unfair, and unjust,” Brooks told The Huffington Post. “I grew up during the L.A. riots and watched lootings happen from my bedroom window. I know the negative psychological effects on a kid and the damaging representation of ones culture from seeing it happen. I hope this small token will have a big impact even if it's only for one child.”
For that reason, Meredith and Brooks selected a wide variety of important terms, figures and groups for the colorful collection of cards. From Africa, to Langston Hughes, to the Dance Theater of Harlem and EBONY Magazine, Brooks and Meredith aim to inspire pride in black excellence and a responsibility to perpetuate it among their young readers.
“It's important to educate our children about their past rich with people who did not see lack of opportunity as a reason to give up," Brooks said. "ABC Me Flashcards inspire and empower children to build on their past as they set goals for the future.”
Brooks and Meredith plan to expand ABC Me Flashcards to other cultures, and say they have a Latin American heritage edition in the works.