Research from Harvard University suggests that children as young as three years old, when exposed to racism and prejudice, tend to embrace and accept it, even though they might not understand the feelings. By age 5, white children are strongly biased towards whiteness. To counter this bias, experts recommend acknowledging and naming race and racism with children as early and as often as possible. Children’s books are one of the most effective and practical tools for initiating these critical conversations; and they can also be used to model what it means to resist and dismantle oppression
Bearing witness to the insults and injuries of race.
I've got plenty of the usual shit-gets-tiresome Black-male stories to tell. The police cars that shadowed me as I walked across campus at night on Chicago’s South Side. The White male MA student who demanded that a departmental administrator explain how I got into the Political Science PhD program when he didn’t. The elderly White people who assumed I was the elevator operator. The tightly-clutched purses, waaay too many to count, accompanied by a lips-pressed determination to avoid eye contact with me.
To varying degrees, each of those incidents shook me at the time. There have been many. Just last week my mother reminded me about the time two White women chose to walk down the middle of the street, literally, rather than pass me on the sidewalk at night. It was my first year of college, I was 18. You were so hurt, she says.
An interview with Dr. Lisa Gutierrez Wang.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a 2012 executive order that enabled undocumented people who arrived in the United States before the age of 16 to register for temporary protection from deportation and for a work permit, renewable every two years.
On Monday, President Trump announced via Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the program has been discontinued. DACA protections will not be withdrawn for any recipient, but after March they will not be renewed unless Congress takes legislative action.
We at EmbraceRace are very aware that this decision will lead to tremendous anxiety for many children. We turned to San Francisco’s Center for Youth Wellness (CYW) for advice about how parents and caregivers can help children and youth navigate this issue. I sat down with Dr. Lisa Gutierrez Wang, CYW’s Director of Clinical Programs, to get her wisdom.
“Don’t worry, pretty lady. I’ll make sure to use a good, strong lock to keep the niggers out.”
He smiled. I blinked. Fifteen years ago, I was moving into my third-floor condo in the French Quarter of New Orleans, Louisiana. I’d hired a neighborhood locksmith to re-key the locks. The place was the size of a postage stamp but it was all mine and it had an extraordinary view. Below me was a lush courtyard where weddings took place. If I stood on my tiptoes, carefully leaned over the wooden dish rack with mismatched dishes and looked out my tiny kitchen window, I could see the Mississippi River.
As the locksmith worked in the open doorway, the trilling chords of the calliope from a steamboat clung to the cold river air and crossed the threshold, drifting inside, chilling the room.
Recently, I joined more than 1,000 people in Park Slope, Brooklyn at a community meeting convened to resist Trump’s agenda. One of the speakers was Hebh Jamal, a 17-year-old Muslim student who led a citywide student walkout to protest the travel ban and Trump’s anti-immigrant policies.
She’s also a leader in the movement to desegregate New York City schools, among the most segregated in the country.
She looked out at the nearly all-white, upper-income crowd — which included many parents — and asked us to recognize ourselves and our children as beneficiaries of a rigged educational system. While this is a known and somewhat lamented fact in our liberal community, the silent room got a little more silent as we contemplated ourselves as both new resisters and longtime collaborators.
Race, humanity, and what I learned in high school.
About three years ago I saw an old friend in Boston. We had dated for about a year in graduate school, when we were in our mid-twenties, and on my visit she showed me photos of ourselves from two decades earlier.
“My god,” she said. “We were so young.” Her voice was full of awe, verging on incredulity. As if, over time, she had dismissed the possibility that we — she — could ever have been as young as the couple in the photos.
My response was a little different, more Shock than Awe. The younger me looked handsome. Attractive. Not just in a young-people-are-adorable kindaway, either. I’m talking total hottie.
Who knew? Not me when I actually was that guy, tell you what. A weird discovery to make so long after the fact. And here’s the other thing I realized in the moment: While I don’t see photos of my young-adult self often, I’m similarly surprised every time I do.
What’s up with that?
I have a friend who works at an elite private school here in SF. We talk a lot about race and children and talking to kids about race. As a White person, she is doing her best to make sure the children she educates are aware of the impact of race in their lives, especially as most of the children she teaches are White children.
She told us about a recent episode that happened at school. As part of an after school activity with a group of 3rd graders, kids were asked to describe their skin color. She told me the list of colors went something like this:
Peach, Peach, Tan, Chicken(!), Peach, Tan
What a white boy taught this black woman about resistance
Our homeschool coop tried a version of the blue eyes/brown eyes exercise in the 6- to 10-year-olds’ history class. I knew it would be interesting, so I settled in to watch, not guessing how much I would learn.
The two parent teachers had cookies, but only the brown-eyed children were allowed to have them. The blue-eyed children sat empty-handed while the brown-eyed children enjoyed their cookies. Most of the blue-eyed children waited patiently, with hurt and confusion evident on their faces.
“You can’t be two races. You have to pick one: white or black.”
“Those are the only two options?”
Confident nods all around.
“What about me?”
Pride in Not Seeing Race = White Privilege
A Facebook post by mom Lydia Rosebush from Louisville, Kentucky went viral. In it, she brags about how her 5 year-old White son befriended a Black boy and does not see race. Here’s what she and those posting it as a sign of hope are missing: This is the epitome of White privilege and color-blind racism.
“….He said that he wanted his head shaved really short so he could look like his friend Reddy. He said he couldn’t wait to go to school on Monday with his hair like Reddy’s so that his teacher wouldn’t be able to tell them apart. He thought it would be so hilarious to confuse his teacher with the same haircut.
Here’s a picture of Jax and Reddy from their Christmas program. I’m sure you all see the resemblance.
If this isn’t proof that hate and prejudice is something that is taught I don’t know what is. The only difference Jax sees in the two of them is their hair.”Kids do see race by the time they get to be 5 years of age. Research shows theyalready have racial bias and favor Whites.