African American Babies Coalition Poster

Creating a New Narrative of African American Families

3/27/17 by Donte Curtis

The African American Babies Coalition is a collective of African Americans who are committed to promoting the healthy development of African American babies. The Coalition brings together parents and grandparents, educators, childcare providers, nonprofit and civic leaders, researchers, and public health professionals from across the Twin Cities. Our goal is to build the capacity of the community to encourage healthy brain development, reduce toxic stress, understand historical trauma, and build practical parenting practices.

Recently, the African American Babies Coalition collaborated with Twin Cities’ Public Television to produce short public service announcements (PSA) using all African Americans families. The PSA’s focus on various topics such as how tantrums teachtoxic stress and the myth of spoiling babies.

New Representation of Healthy Families

The information in these topics isn’t new. However, the Coalition found that the majority of research and information available about healthy parenting practices and brain development were created by white institutions and used white families to represent the information they were sharing. Representation is important in media because it shapes the way people think about groups of people. Through these videos, the African American Babies Coalition is creating a new representation of what a healthy family looks like by engaging African American families in PSAs that share these universal parenting strategies. 

In Why Are All the Blacks Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, racial identity expert Beverly Tatum writes that identity is formed by what others think of you. Race is “in our face” everyday – the narratives about our communities matter. It is important we create our own narrative and not allow it to be created for us. Having African American families depicting information about research on parenting, brain development, and toxic stress sends a message that this is for families of color. It gives a sense of pride while at the same time shaping a narrative of what the black family is.

  • Yes, we care about our babies
  • Yes, we are good parents
  • Yes, we have two parent households
  • Yes, we know how to raise great children

View the Videos and Learn More

These videos are airing now on Twin Cities Public Television, and can be viewed on our website. The African American Babies Coalition is also using the videos in our training and community engagement.

If you would like to learn more about the work of the Coalition or get a DVD copy of the videos please call 1-800-550-7195.

Donte Curtis is working with Wilder’s Community Initiatives team through the AmeriCorps Public Allies program. He is working with the African American Babies Coalition to address issues with generational trauma, adverse childhood experiences (ACES), toxic stress and early childhood development.