Hi Adanna, you’re well known for your Youtube channel, The Adanna David Family. What was your journey to starting the channel and did you always intend for it to grow in the way that it has?
Our journey started in 2014 when a 15 second Instagram video of David and I dancing went viral, which was a bit of a shock to us because at that point I had around 445 followers who were basically all my friends and family! From there, people suggested we start a YouTube channel so we could post long-form content about what we get up to. I definitely didn’t expect the growth! We’ve expanded by around 50k subscribers each year which we consider a huge success considering we’re not full time YouTubers.
Are there any stories from your own experiences that might have been a catalyst to you becoming such a force for change?
I wouldn’t say there was one particular incident which drastically changed my course in life. I grew up around very high achieving, ambitious people including my mother who had five children and still managed to be a successful lawyer and run a business on the side. My parents took the time to nurture my siblings and me and were careful with what they taught us. As a parent now, I know that the words you speak to your children hold a lot of power and are the reason I have the drive that I do to succeed.
What are your best tips for parents who want to educate their children regarding anti-racism?
Racism is essentially prejudice or discrimination against a particular racial or ethnic group, so we need to encourage children very early on to appreciate and celebrate our differences, keeping in mind that at our core we are all the same. Young children are influenced by what they see and hear, so books are a really good place to start their education of inclusivity.
What would you say are the most common, well-meaning, mistakes that parents make with regards to educating their children on anti-racism?
It’s one thing to educate your children about race and another to educate them about racism – one is positive and one is negative. I think parents make mistakes when they’re not intentional about what they teach children about race. Something I came across a lot when the Black Lives Matter movement happened this year, was parents saying their children weren’t old enough to understand and I think that came down to the fact that parents themselves weren’t confident in their knowledge, or felt uncomfortable with the situation, making it almost impossible to educate their kids. You can start by incorporating diverse books very early on – you don’t even need to do the talking, it’s there on the page for you. Then encourage the conversation of celebrating diversity at home before they go out into the world – then that’s half the battle won.
It’s often argued that everything starts with education, why do you think that is?
Education is the building block of society. Our policies, infrastructure, technology, social integration – it’s all a product of our education which doesn’t start and end in classroom. It starts at home and in our immediate circles. Education is power and guides the outcome of everything you do.
You say that you were told by your parents growing up, that you must work harder than your white counterparts to achieve the same success, how do you currently feel about having the same conversation with your own children?
My parents always told me “you must work whilst others are sleeping and think whilst others are daydreaming”. I was raised and had my early education in Nigeria where everyone was black, so that statement wasn’t applicable to race. When we moved to England, my parents were very aware of structural racism in western society, so they told me I needed to work twice as hard as the white people in my class. But the foundation remained the same “I want to see my children succeed”.
As a parent, I will always give my children advice that motivates them. I am in a bi-racial relationship and we live in a society where bi-racial children are broadly considered black, so I will keep that in mind but ultimately I will say to my children the same thing my parents told me– you must work twice as hard as your peers, regardless of race, to achieve success.
What do you do to keep yourself feeling positive when things are particularly challenging?
For me, it’s all about routine. I recently read ‘Think Like a Monk’ by Jay Shetty who talks about using sight, sense and sound to achieve a peaceful mind. I try to incorporate these values into my day-to-day life and stay intentional about what I read, smell and listen to. I avoid looking at my phone as soon as I wake up. Especially at the moment, there is so much negativity everywhere we look, it doesn’t serve you well to start your day with it. I have a diffuser with essential oils to take care of my senses, and then in terms of sound, I have different playlists for different needs which help either motivate me or chill me out.
Do you have anything coming up that you’d like to tell us about?
During the first lockdown, my husband David and I had quite frankly gotten to the peak of our frustrations and we realised as a family there were plenty of things to be grateful for despite the panic and uncertainty. This mindset shift inspired us to ask our children one very vital question every evening: ‘What are you grateful for today?’ We would talk about it and then write it down. We believe that no child is too young to understand that each day brings something to be celebrated, and it certainly doesn’t hurt us as adults to do the same. So I am so excited to finally be sharing ‘The Joon Journal’- a bright and purposeful journal for both children and adults, to help bring families closer together through practicing gratitude. It has brought so many happy moments of happiness, reflection, compassion and love for us, and now we hope it can do the same for others.
The Joon Journal by Adanna & David Steinacker, £25.00 is available from www.thejooncompany.com