An EmbraceRace community conversation
Many parents want their children to embrace racial diversity and multiculturalism. Research shows that people who grow up in diverse neighborhoods and attend diverse schools express less racial prejudice and are more supportive of multiculturalism. However, neighborhood segregation means that many U.S. families live in racially homogenous neighborhoods and many children go to school mostly with same-race kids. In this session we discuss the importance of being color-conscious (rather than "not seeing color") and offer some ideas about how to foster inclusive attitudes in children - of all colors - who live and attend school in these homogenous environments.
In this hour-long conversation, first, Professor Vittrup presented what she’s learned and discussed the implications for raising kids. Next, EmbraceRace Co-founders, Andrew Grant-Thomas and Melissa Giraud, facilitated the Q & A with the community. Watch the video and find the tipsheet (linked above), read the transcript (below).
Only 1% of the children’s books published in the U.S. in 2016 featured Indigenous characters, and even fewer (1/4 of the 1% = 8 books total) were written by Indigenous authors.
“Most of what kids see in books today are best sellers & classics that stereotype & misrepresent Native people in history. There’s a lot of bias in them. The books that I recommend are ones that can counter that bias in several ways. One, they’re not stereotypical. Two, most of them are set in the present day, which is important in countering what we see in a lot of children’s & young adult literature, which says that we vanished, we didn’t make it to the present day, and of course we did.” -Debbie Reese, Nambe Pueblo, of American Indians in Children’s Literature
Growing up Black in a predominantly White church, I didn’t believe racism angered God. In retrospect, this is no surprise: the standard practice in Christian churches has been to push a message of unity at the expense of addressing deep-rooted issues of oppression. Common narratives within the church often echo the message, “We are all Christians, aren’t we? So put aside your differences. Focus on the goodness of the Lord!”
Consequently, I assumed that racism was outside of God’s realm of concern. How else to explain why my church leaders stayed clear of any discussion of race when Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were murdered by police and when Sandra Bland died in police custody? I assumed that because my pastor didn’t focus on these issues, neither did God.
My family tells me that for several days after November 8th, I curled up on the couch and cried inconsolably. I barely remember that week, as I was frozen with terror for my family and other loved ones. When I told my children what had happened, my 11-year-old, an immigrant and Latinx child, asked if she should leave the country and go “home”.
An EmbraceRace Community Conversation
Professor Amber Williams
The challenges we face as a country and as communities around racial equity and racial inequality won’t be solved simply by increasing the number of cross-racial friendships among children (and adults, for that matter), but it certainly would help! Our guest for this Community Conversation was Professor Amber Williams who researches the why and how of cross-race friendships among kids.
In this hour long conversation, first, Professor Williams presented what she’s learned and discussed the implications for raising kids. Next, EmbraceRace Co-founders, Andrew Grant-Thomas and Melissa Giraud, facilitated the Q & A with the community. Resources are included in the edited transcript that follows.
In the darkness of the very early morning of November 9, 2016, my husband and I lay awake in our bed. By 3 a.m., we realized that neither of us would sleep again that morning, and we turned to each other and began talking. During those fraught early morning hours, we cycled through grief, anger, numbness, disgust, and then back through them again as many of our worst fears about our country became much more real.
My white husband cried at the now all-too-real prospect of nuclear conflict and of our now ten-year-old son and his peers going to war. Stunned, I replied, “You’re worried about THAT?” While nuclear war seemed much less far-fetched than it had the previous day, it was nowhere near the top of my list of immediate concerns. Rather, as a woman of color, I feared that overt acts of racism and hate crimes would be perpetrated close to home in our progressive, left-leaning Boston neighborhood.
When I explained this to my husband, he replied, “You’re worried about THAT? That won’t be an issue here. I don’t think you need to worry about that.”
A post about kids and costumes might seem out of season but I live in San Francisco; kids in costume are year-round here.
A little over a year ago, my mother-in-law got me a subscription to Parents magazine. Parents is not a magazine I would have subscribed to on my own.
Without much knowledge about the magazine, I assumed it offered a lot of mainstream, stereotypical, commercialized views on parenting, which it does, but it also provides some unexpected and thoughtful perspectives. I’ve been pleasantly surprised (thanks OMom!). For example, the first magazine I received included an article on parents raising transgendered children.
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
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.