We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashley Causey-Golden and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashley, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I wanted something different for Black children. I have been working in many educational spaces that didn’t center blackness or any form of identity outside of Whiteness. It is more subtle than many parents, loved ones, and educators realize. You see the books with diverse faces and the school may recognize the cultural holidays for each month but other than that the child’s identity becomes who that child is in the classroom context. Attentive vs, Lazy, Vocal vs. Quiet, Kind or Generous vs. Bossy or Not willing to share, Smart vs. Slow to learn. What seems like “harmless” measures or labels that are used within education by educators and well-meaning parents who want their child to be successful become sticky labels which unfortunately can lead to children seeing those labels as their whole identity. The interconnectedness of nature, ancestral history, food sources, and a child’s spirit and emotions are often not part of the development of children, especially Black children. I had to create something different. 

What should our readers know about your business?
What sets me apart from other educational toy/material businesses is that I want Afrocentric Montessori to be more than a product. Each item that I create has an intentional and holistic focus because I am asking myself the following questions: Will a child see his or herself represented within this product? Will this product allow for learning opportunities and explorations to connect back the experiences that are present within the home or could this product lend to shifting the narrative from centering white, Western/European thought? I am most excited about building a community for Afrocentric Montessori that extends beyond products because COVID has caused many families, educators, and loved ones to rethink education as well as what it means to have a child or children at home compared to children spending the majority of their hours at school. This has caused a number of emotions for many parents and loved ones about how to balance it all–children, work, home, intimate relationships as well as managing personal well-being. It can be isolating and overwhelming when it comes to education because Black, Indigenous, and parents of color know good intentions are not enough and second chances do not always come for our children, regardless of age. Community is essential for all of us, parents, educators, and loved ones to stay in this present and committed to finding, creating, and uplifting an education that is anti-racist/anti-bias. This can not happen in isolation. I’m working on creating a platform on Mighty Networks called Gather. Gather’s three key takeaways: 1. It’s built for collaborative learning. This space is for anyone who is interested in creating a life that is a different reality than the way you have encounter parenting, teaching, or working in the past—whether that is for your children, your professional development, your home life. Gather’s intention is to help individuals find a starting place that is grounding in community and accountability so you don’t have to do it alone. 2. Engaging content centering the needs of BIPOC. You will see, read, and learn from Black, Indigenous, and people of color voices and point of view. Gather is actively trying to shift the narrative from centering white, Western/European thought to a more global and holistic way of being and thinking for ourselves. 3. We bring together accountability and community. Learning and discovering a “new” or “different” way of being is difficult especially when you are doing it without support or you are unsure. Accountability can look many ways here at Gather. You have the ability with this platform to have your own meet-ups and check-ins as well as reaching out to the larger community for follow-ups after a conference, training, or book club gathering.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Favorite spots in the City: Eat: My menu favorite is Mama Sharon’s Chicken &French Toast. The french toast can be a meal in itself! http://oldladygang.com/ Visit/Hang out: I love nature and going on light hiking trails to breathe, get centered, and especially with COVID have some time outdoors with minimal people. Here are some great places to visit: https://www.atlantatrails.com/sweetwater-creek-state-park/ https://www.atlantatrails.com/hiking-trails/cascade-springs-nature-preserve/ https://www.stonemountainpark.com/Activities

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would not be where I am currently on this journey of unlearning and learning more grounding, healing, and affirming educational, parenting, and birthing practices without the alignment of meeting and working with the following people: I am so grateful for all the mothers who allowed me to be their doula and be present in such an intimate way. Supporting each of you during your journey gave me insight, courage, patience, and grace for my own journey as a mother. I am thankful to Seneca Village Montessori School, especially Sharifa Hodges who empowered me, loved on me, and provided me with a framework to center Blackness in educating Black children. It was working there that birthed Afrocentric Montessori. That was the first place that I worked at that affirmed and uplifted my Blackness as something to be explored, talked about, and loved which changed everything for me in terms of how I will educate my child. I am a believer that the ultimate creator provides everything you need for your special journey and I am so honored that Shayla L. Bryant and I crossed paths a year ago. Little did I know that she will be the person to connect me with my traditional midwife. She has pushed and loved on me more times than I can count to continue my work with Afrocentric Montessori. I am also thankful for meeting Kenesha Fair because she provided me the beautiful opportunity of watching what conscious parenting looks like…all of it….the joys as well as the low points that come with being vulnerable and unlearning aspects of how you were raised or taught. Being in her space with her son, helped me not only become a better teacher but will definitely help me become a better mother that honors and supports the spirit of my child.

Website: https://afrocentricmontessori.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/afrocentric.montessori/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AfrocentricMontessori
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgBHgXN5xVSAfh8oe0E9wsg
Other: For those interested in joining the Gather community: Please fill out this form to receive a link for one-month free access to Gather’s Premium Plan (11.99 value) or iOS app download (13.99 value) (Link to form-https://forms.gle/u6Gd1shwW2nrxgzx8 What You Should Expect From Gather: Gather is aiming to make your experience here awesome. Here are four key things you will get from Gather: – Get exclusive content, conversations, and the opportunity to build meaningful community interactions that can grow beyond the virtual space. – Meet people who share your interests who live near you, who do the same things, or who care about the same topics. – Make better, more well-informed decisions about the things that are most important to you. – Swap stories, experiences, and ideas (not necessarily advice) around topics such as anti-racism and anti-bias education, gentle/conscious parenting, slow living, minimalism, Afrocentric education, Montessori/Waldorf/Reggio Emilia/Unschooling education, and more! Benefits: Monthly Calendar of Social Justice Observances Monthly Book Club Printables from Afrocentric Montessori (3 times a month) Curated content along with featuring conferences, articles, videos, podcasts, and more all in one place Monthly Community Call/Check-in Monthly Co-learning videos with resources Discounts and Freebies from BIPOC Brands

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