It’s August, ya’ll, which means many of you are getting ready to stock up your classrooms with new supplies or fill your kids’ closets with new school gear. For those of us that are of the African Diaspora, finding everyday educational supplies and materials that reflect the outer and inner cultural beings of our melanted children can be a daunting and emotionally frustrating task. Trust me–I know first hand, which is why I created My Reflection Matters (MRM) in the first place.
If you’re not familiar with us, MRM is an online space I created a year and a half ago where I share educational products I come across that affirm the identities of Black and Brown youth (prek-12) for woke parents and educators (like myself) hungry for these much needed resources. This year, I’m adding 21 school products to MRM’s resource library including the announcement of MRM’s very first line of products! All items shared here have been created by Black and Brown owned companies focused on creating items that empower Black and Brown consumers by combating negative stereotypes and empowering our youth. Stay connected with MRM by subscribing to our newsletter for updates on new resources I find and, now, create to make your black to school shopping much easier.
We’re excited to introduce our first line of WOKE school supplies for the not so average student. MRM’s How to Stay Woke Notebook Collection provides visual reminders/tips for young and mature people on how to consciously engage in their learning experience. When someones says something crazy in class, students can be reminded to “walk away & breathe, but always come back & check a racist comment” or question their teachers by asking “how is what is being said and done support the liberation of marginalized communities?”. Our journal sized notebooks are good for passing notes to those who need help staying awake or jotting new ideas on how to stay woke in class! Our three designs include: How to Stay Woke in Class: Always Disrupt Racism, How to Stay Woke in Class: Question Every Thing, and How to Stay Woke in Class for Wypipo: Decenter Your Whiteness. These notebooks are a perfect gift for students, teachers, and social-justice minded folks and conference attendees!
GIVE AWAY! We are giving away one of each of our 3 signature notebooks this month. Post a comment below in order to enter your name in our drawing.
Last year, I featured Innovative Supplies in my first Black to School Newsletter. In the first 24 hours after going public, this much needed Black school supplies company sold out! Owner, Nneka Brown , not only puts out a product that reflects positive Black identity, but she also invests all profits in a Black owned bank and hires Black and Brown high schoolers in order to provide them the opportunity to develop job skills they are less likely to obtain in traditional teen jobs, such as management and shipping and business roles. Be sure to peep Innovative Supplies’ brand new 2017-2018 notebook collection , such as their I know Where I’m Going: Free To Be Me spiral notebook featured here.
Brown Baby Cakes designs fun notebooks with kids of all shades of brown in mind as well as hair accessories and fashion. Large orders can receive a discount as well as the option to print your organization’s name on each notepad.
GIVE AWAY! We are giving away a Brown Baby Cakes signature notebook this month. Post a comment below in order to enter your name in our drawing.
A married couple created Moe Melanin as a way to counteract the negative stereotypes surrounding Black people. They state on their site that “we know we can’t completely change how the media chooses to portray us but we can definitely do our part by providing more images of us that are unified, positive, and empowering.” Their online store carries school supplies, fashion, and other gifts.
If you are a fan of modern art, like myself, you will appreciate the artistry of Nancy Coretta Scaife-Mullens from Napp2Reality Fashion. Her Afro-feminine centered pieces beautifully make a statement on all the items you buy and wear from her such as tops, bags, mugs, and other accessories. Her one-of-kind backpacks will make a statement in the halls of any school!
Blended Designs is a small, family owned business out of Jacksonville, Florida that specializes in apparel and gifts with positive messages for kids of the African Diaspora. They have a large backpack selection which includes various affirming designs. Each time you purchase an item from their dope collection, a portion of their profits goes towards helping first time college goers obtain their Bachelor’s degree!
Calendars & Planners
Award winning artist, Ricardo Levins Morales, is a Puerto Rican activist who had worked alongside the Black Panthers and Young Lords and, now, uses his art to promote social justice. His popular 2017 Liberation Calendar sold out quickly; however, each month you can download his FREE printable calendar on his website. In addition to calendars, you can find uniquely designed posters and buttons calling for social freedom everywhere.
Shades of Color is a Black owned business that has been around for over 20 years! They started on a mission to bring melanin into the gift and calendar business for schools and businesses everywhere. Shades of Color has got you covered if you are looking for calendars and planners that reflect the outer beauty of your kids from small to big. Check out their latest 2018 calendar for kids and 2018 Aspire, Affirm & Achieve Planner!
Rethinking Schools is an activist publication that puts out articles written by and for teachers, parents, and students. Through their work, they emphasize issues impacting urban schools–especially racial inequities. Each year they produce Planning to Change the World: A Plan Book for Social Justice Teachers. As a home educator, I find this planner useful when I want to look for inspiration, resources, or find out what historical individuals I won’t find celebrated in mainstream calendars my kids and I can learn more about together.
Instructional Materials For Home or School
Urban Intellectuals recently released their 52-deck flashcard set each containing facts about a Black historical figure or event. Flashcards are a very traditional, and some may even say outdated, instructional tool because of the drill and practice often associated with the use of them. I, however, encourage you to utilize them in non-traditional ways so that the content in them doesn’t get lost. One simple way to use these as well as the other flash cards shared in this article is to practice Black history is everyday with your kids by having them pull a different card out each day of the week during your morning routine to read together (or to your class). The cards can drive a conversation around who is considered Black in our country and who might be left out of these cards that represent the African Diaspora? You can even ask kids to add to the deck by finding historical facts and figures from their Afro-diasporic background and creating their own cards. Now, that’s thinking outside the box!
Similar to the Black History Flashcards, Melanated Moguls is a 52 deck of cards each containing information about Black American entrepreneurs that, unfortunately, many of our children never learn about anywhere! Our Black and Brown kids need to see themselves in leadership roles, so sharing with them images and facts about individuals who have successfully taken ideas and turned them into a business is important in shaping their racial and ethnic identities.
ABC Me Flashcards are not your ordinary alphabet cards. In addition to serving as a letter sound and identification tool, these cards also share a bit of Black American history on the back of each letter card.
I was so excited when I stumbled upon the Swift Walker science & geography series! Why? Because how often do you see a brown-skinned character representing the face of science? Like never! Swift Walker, the main character, encourages children ages 4 and up to use their imagination as he uses his quick legs to take adventures around the world to teach them about different landscapes, oceans, and even outer space! There are currently 3 volumes: Swift Walker: A Continental Journey; Swift Walker: A Journey Around the Oceans; and Swift Walker: A Space Adventure. This is perfect for the science aficionado or for introducing kids to the world of science and geography in a fun way!
Reading Comprehension Passages: Famous Afro-Latinos (Vol. 1) includes simple reading passages for the traditional homeschooling parent or teacher to build and assess student comprehension. While I can do without the assessment pieces, what makes them great is that the readings are all centered around important Afro-Latinos, which is not something you find in mainstream teaching materials. Created by Mommy Maestra!
Fashion With A Purpose
In addition to notebooks, MRM has added some swag to throw into your kids’ back to school wardrobe. Affirm your melanated child’s brilliance with our new, bold Afro-Diasporic Brilliant Child top for kids representing the African Diaspora! Sizes range from infant to adult to ensure the right fit for growing babes of all ages. Don’t forget to add to your swag one of our signature “How To Stay Woke In Class” notebooks for a boost of consciousness!
GIVE AWAY! We are giving away one t-shirt in any size of your liking. Post a comment below in order to enter your name in our drawing.
Ten year old Kheris Rogers was bullied by peers and teachers for her dark, brown complexion. Her line of inspiring tees is her way of pushing against those who are too blind to see the beauty in her radiant skin. Have your young and older kids flex in their complexion with one of these fab tees!
Coco’Pie Clothing was founded in 2011 by mom, Shantae Pelt, who was inspired to create fashion that validated her daughters’ beauty (I can totally relate with this mama!). The idea began to take shape after one of her daughters saw a t-shirt with a little black girl on it and joyously shouted, “Look, mommy! It’s ME on that shirt!” Needless to say, her daughter wore the hell out of her top! This is when Shantae new she needed to jump into the fashion industry. She now has dozens of products and designs including brown-skinned characatures on mugs, pillows, and bags.
You can find Carib Ibis on Etsy selling her Caribbean inspired apparel and artwork including this Black Lives Matters t-shirt and onsie. This top is framed with the names of ten victims of police brutality symbolically speaking to the unjust treatment of Black and Brown bodies in America. It’s never too early to start developing the social-political consciousness of your kids!
GIVE AWAY! We are giving away a Carib Ibis Black Lives Matter onesie this month. Post a comment below in order to enter your name in our drawing.
Chemay is a social liberation & equity coach who founded My Reflection Matters, LLC in 2016. She is an unschooling mom of two brilliant, TriniRican boys. She loves traveling, going on adventures and exploring new things with her sons, reading, decorating, yoga, photography, and collecting funky art. (Read more on MRM’s About Page.)