Check out this archived EmbraceRace Community Conversation with leaders of IntergrateNYC4Me. In New York City, home to among the most segregated schools in the country, IntegrateNYC4Me, this student-led effort, is pushing back hard against educational segregation and the inequities it represents in their city and across the country. Find out how, why, and what difference its made so far – both to the cause and to the student leaders themselves.
EmbraceRace's Andrew and Melissa facilitate a community conversation with IntegrateNYC4Me co-founder Sarah Camiscoli and with student leaders Matt Diaz and Hebh Jamal. An edited transcript and more resources follow.
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
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?”
A liberal college professor discovers the alternative right
“Straight out of Central Casting — I’m the liberal college professor, elbow patches included.” I make this crack to my U.S. Government students the first day of every semester. I am actually an Obama centrist. Dewey and Niebuhr, these are my heroes. I never felt the Bern. Institutions, for better or worse, are all we have. The perfect is the enemy of the good. Better is always better than worse — and then you die.
You get all kinds at the two-year college where I teach in New England: city kids from our blighted urban areas; blue collar suburban kids; middle-class kids looking to score their first 60 credits at a discount; and rural kids from our remaining farm towns. It is not uncommon to have gang members and militia kids sitting side by side. Hey, at least they agree on the Second Amendment….
This is the beginning of an intricate text conversation I had a few mornings ago with my cousin, who is a wife, mom of two, and an award-winning educator.
How to teach kids they do not belong… and how to teach them they do
The class erupted into a familiar but tired applause while my classmate blushed, looking down at her feet as she returned to her seat. As the energy of the room dissipated, our teacher, with one hand fixed on her reading glasses and her eyes focused on finding the next name on her list, calmly rose her voice above the sounds of the middle school classroom and declared, “Andrew, you’re up!”
I nervously shuffled the necessary papers into my hand as I stood up, hyper aware of the few eyes watching me make my way up to the front of the room. As a fairly shy student, I could feel my face turning red as I stood in front of what seemed like a vast sea of classmates, my heart racing as I searched for the start of a presentation I could call my own.
Experts answer your questions.
Listen to the full conversation or read an edited transcript below. EmbraceRace co-founders, Andrew Grant-Thomas and Melissa Giraud, brought questions submitted by you all — the EmbraceRace community — to child psychologist Dr. Allison Briscoe-Smith and educator Dr. Sandra “Chap” Chapman. The resources recommended throughout this conversation are listed in full at the bottom of the transcript.
How American education produced the audience for a nonsense candidate
Our current political crisis, also known as Election 2016, where the weaknesses of the American two-party system are on flagrant display, is a perfect illustration of what happens when American education creates and reinforces a myopic, small-minded culture of exclusion. If the goal of the American education system is to create a society where critical thinkers are the minority and ethical behavior is a niche interest, then it is a booming success. All my post-baccalaureate reading and learning has brought me to the conclusion that American public education is a system built by capitalist white supremacy for the purpose of maintaining capitalist white supremacy. Why on earth would I want to send my children of color to get an education like that?
When I teach my Kindergarten students about diversity, I begin by giving them language they can use to understand differences and communicate with one another with respect.
Too often, adults avoid talking about skin color and race with young children, particularly white parents and white educators like me. The well-meaning ones who avoid the conversation tell themselves (despite considerable evidence to the contrary) that by not talking about skin color and race, children will simply not notice those differences and be naturally inclusive with one another, communicating “human” to “human.”