Home and Heritage Traditions Lessons I Want to Teach My Children as a Black Mother

published Feb 22, 2022
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A Black family of four standing in front of a house with a turquoise door. Everyone is dressed in formal clothes, with fall leaves on the ground.

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My grandfather was a brick mason. And I grew up surrounded by women who constantly made custom curtains and table linens, and repaired antique chandeliers, and created scrapbooks. I also have fond memories of going to Black art galleries with my father, along with visiting my family land, where my grandfather built his forever home with friends and family working alongside him.

I want to share this heritage with my children. I want them to remember that their home is not just a building, but a collection of memories and traditions passed down through generations of builders, homemakers, artists, and above all else, family. As I celebrate and honor Black History Month, I thought about what I wanted to pass down to my children as a Black mom.

The Celebrations of Home

There are so many traditions around maintaining a home and entertaining the ones you love. From hosting holidays such as Watch Night and Juneteenth to hosting baby showers, I want my kids to understand that home is a place for celebration and joy, especially of their Black heritage. Some hallmarks of the Gullah Geechee community are our penchant for Southern hospitality and Lowcountry cuisine, with favorites like Oyster Perloo, Okra Soup, and Sweet Potato Pudding, served at the table with indigo napkins and sweetgrass baskets. 

Gullah Decor Styles

I would love to pass down heirlooms to my kids that reflect Black Heritage. From sweetgrass baskets to indigo textiles, the pieces I select in my home represent the Gullah culture. I want to share this unique culture and home decor style with my kids, and help them find ways to incorporate our heritage — hopefully into adulthood.

The Legends of Black Art

Throughout my home, I collect and curate some of my favorite Black artists, particularly from the rural South. Images of small Black towns, Black churches, and heritage are scattered throughout my home to both decorate and educate my children about the rich history of Black Americans. I especially make it a point to support local Gullah artists in my own Lowcountry community. From Jonathan Green to Sonja Griffin Evans, I want to teach my children to honor these legends in the Black community as they decorate their own homes with their future families. 

Supporting Black Tradespeople

My grandfather was a brick mason, and I am especially intrigued by the making of homes as part of one’s heritage. There is a rich culture and history around African Americans designing and producing furniture and textiles from enslavement, from High Point and beyond. I have so many of these artisans in my own family, including brick masons, wood makers, and more. From our churches to our family homes, so many of these structures were created by the black artisans and tradesmen in our family and extended family, and I want to encourage my children to not only support these artisans but take an interest in learning how to do some of these trades themselves.  Local museums, churches, and organizations often have great programs and classes for children to learn in a fun environment. 

Above all else, I would like to make sure my kids understand the importance of having their home reflect who they are. From selecting the land, to building and decorating, home is a reflection of our culture and heritage. I strive to show this to my children everyday. My dad and grandfather did this for me, and I am always reminded of their gift when I sit on the land my grandfather bought, in the home he built to pass down to my father and to his grandkids. It is something I never take for granted. It makes me feel connected to him and our memories together. I can only hope my kids feel the same way as they grow into adulthood.