We are parents and educators committed to a just and equitable society. This blog is a forum to share ideas and resources to help us teach our children and ourselves about social equity issues.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jay Smooth on ways to discuss race and racism

This video has been featured recently on several websites, a testament to the thirst out there for helpful suggestions on how to address the topic of racial identity and racism. Jay Smooth, who produces a video blog, Ill Doctrine, is the speaker, and does an excellent job of presenting a shift in the way we can think about racism and microaggressions. He advocates moving away from the good person/ bad person dichotomy to considering racist acculturation as something akin to tooth plaque, something out there in the environment which accumulates and requires daily and intentional action to address and remove from our being. His presentation is a really nice way of minimizing the stereotype threat most self-identified white people feel that they will be perceived as bad racists, a minimizing which allows for the possibility of genuine insight and empathy to emerge from "race" discussions.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

An inspiring speech

An inspiring speech which Zach Wahls gave to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee on Jan 31, 2011 about being the son of a married female couple. Must have been such a proud moment for his parents.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Reconsidering Thanksgiving

Dear Parents and Teachers

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.  Like many of you perhaps, I love the combination of cooking, eating, Fall and family time.

But it’s also a great jumping off point, with our children, to challenge what we think about this holiday, and its history, from a new perspective.  Thanksgiving is of course a bittersweet day, at best, for many of the indigenous people of North America for whom the day is a reminder of betrayal and loss.

I put together some resources; movies, books and other notes that may be interesting to consider over the holiday.  I particularly enjoyed the PBS American Experience documentary series, entitled “We Shall Remain.”  The first episode of the five part series is After the Mayflower.  It tells what we now believe unfolded between the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians. Through interviews with historians and re-enactments, this episode examines the Wampanoag's assistance to and alliance with the Pilgrims and the tragic events over the next 50 years.  It’s quite a story.  It is appropriate for general viewing but does contain some powerful descriptions and images which may be too much for very young viewers, for instance, a facsimile of a severed head. This occurs in the film after 1:09 minutes if you want to preview before deciding if appropriate for your whole family.

Here are some other resources I found thought provoking too:

Should I correct Thanksgiving stereotypes my kids see on TV?

Oyate: Recommended children's books about Thanksgiving

Teaching about Native American Issues

Have a very happy Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Parent/Guardian Diversity Education Series- Part One

Hello Parents, Guardians and Teachers,

We had a great session with Nathan Shara this week. Nathan, a facilitator with Seattle Safe Schools, led us through an exercise to examine how we develop protective shields to negotiate the world, which protect us against social identity vulnerability, but can interfere with our ability to see and communicate with others. 

He started by drawing a heart which contained qualities of a newborn child. Participants offered qualities, such as "curious, trusting, capable of a range of emotions, unself-aware" etc. Around the heart we listed things which might be said to that child as he or she grows up, and considered how those messages varied if the child were light or dark skinned, able bodied or not, girl or boy etc. Messages proffered included, "you're sweet, exhausting, stupid, too sensitive, weak, a problem, ugly," etc. Nathan talked about how these messages are heart attacks, or attacks on the heart, and how in response, we develop shields to protect ourselves. Examples of shields were,"I won't care much about school work because everyone says I can't be intelligent," or " I'm going to numb out because I'm  not allowed to be emotional." He then had us perform this exercise for ourselves, listing our heart qualities, the messages we have taken in and the shields we developed as a result. It was a moving exercise.

You may wonder what this type of introspective work has to do with social equity or learning how to help our children with gender identity development, the stated objective of the workshop. I think one of the aspects which makes social equity work so compelling, if challenging, is that it involves both political and personal transformation. Neither is enough, and indeed both journeys, the internal and the external, fuel each other. When I started this work, I wanted a ready made answer, a book or a role play guide, to teach me the skills of parenting my children through a social equity lens. But the books and the expert guidance are not enough, unless the transformation is also occurring within. The example we embody to our children and peers, as parents grappling with uncertainty and making ourselves vulnerable to learning and tenderness in our own hearts, is the basis for any political change we will be able to accomplish in our families, our school or the world. 

Because of time constraints, we watched just a few minutes of It's Elementary. I am happy to announce a screening of the full length version of the film, with discussion after, on Thursday, December 15th, in the Community Room, from 8:45 until 10:45 am. Here is a link to the trailer for the film


Saturday, November 12, 2011

Cultivating healthy gender identities in our children

Hello Parents, Guardians and Teachers!

I want to make sure that you are aware of the parent/ guardian diversity education event at our school this coming Monday, November 14th, in the Community Room from 8:45 am - 10 am. Nathan Shara from Seattle Safe Schools is coming to facilitate a discussion on gender identity in our children and how we can foster healthy gender development.

This week I thought of how applicable and necessary this conversation is for families as I read this article from the New York Times, about a just released study which reports that almost 50% of 7-12 graders experience sexual harassment at school. Given what we know about how gender identity is restricted and defended, with femininity characterized as pretty and passive and masculinity idealized as active and virile, it is not surprising that the harassment girls report involves being perceived as overly (hetero)sexual, with taunts of "slut" and "whore." For boys, the bullying revolves around being perceived as not traditionally heterosexual enough, with being called "gay" the most commonly described harassment.

The scope of this problem for our children and in our schools suggests that this is a concern for all families. We can learn how to help our children both defend themselves and resist the impulse to harm others by understanding how to cultivate healthy gender identity in our children. I hope you can come and participate in this important discussion.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Parenting along the gender spectrum- video

This is a wonderful short video about families with children who are gender questioning. Use the password to access.

The Family Journey

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Where Children Sleep

Dear Parents, Guardians and Teachers,

I want to share with you a link to a very compelling book, Where Children Sleep, by photographer James Mollison. In his words, "The book is written and presented for an audience of 9-13 year olds' intended to interest and engage children in the details of the lives of other children around the world, and the social issues affecting them, while also being a serious photographic essay for an adult audience." 

Take a look at this link. http://www.jamesmollison.com/wherechildrensleep.php 27 sample photographs from the book are accessible by clicking on the numbers at the top. This is a book one could use to engage children in empathic understanding of others, and begin to explore critically ideas surrounding equity, affluence, and privilege. 


Monday, October 24, 2011

Gender Spectrum Parenting

Hello Parents and Teachers,

I have been thinking recently about how children develop healthy gender identities. Last year, Nathan Shara from Seattle Safe Schools came and spoke with our parent group about biological sex, gender identity and gender expression. What struck me about his presentation was that before it, I saw gender identity as a particular concern of the LGBTQ community. After however, I recognized that all of us, LGBTQ and non-LGBTQ, are restricted and harmed by rigidly defined gender roles.

 For most children and adults, our gender identities match our biological sex, so gender and sex appear synonymous, and this synchronicity is considered “normal.”  Gender therefore appears (incorrectly) to be a biological imperative, rather than a social construction. For many adults and children however, biological sex and gender identity are not the same and growing up in a world with tight definitions of maleness and femaleness is a profound source of painful non-belonging.  As I noted above, this pain does not just affect those who are gender fluid, but causes all of us to limit ourselves. What man or woman, boy or girl could embody all the “ideals” of maleness or femaleness, and at what cost? Last year I was surprised to see that our kindergardeners had absorbed messages about what boys and girls were “allowed” to do and had started gender policing each other. One of my son’s male friends had been teased at school for wearing nail polish. Another made the observation that, as the after school chess club was entirely male, “girls must not be good at chess.”

Our children have taken in since birth hundreds of messages every day about what boys and girls are allowed to be, (and indeed, the message that one is only either a boy or a girl,) so it should not have surprised me, as it did, that they use these messages to make sense of their world. Often it is parents who are knowledgable about LBGTQ issues through personal experience, or who find themselves parenting a gender questioning child, who educate themselves and proactively strengthen their child to resist these messages describing restrictive gender roles. However I might argue that every child would benefit from learning to question these messages, not only to prevent teasing and bullying, but to allow our children to experience their full humanity.

In this effort of education and inquiry, here are two resources which provide insight into these issues: Gender Spectrum, a website providing gender sensitive support for children and teens, and Sociological Images, which provides commentary and insight into the social messages we and our children receive every day. The links will bring you to specific bookmarks within each site which I found particularly helpful for this topic.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Movie Night

Hello parents and teachers!

I want to bring your attention to several great DVD's which are available from our school library. (Did you know that parents can create their own library account and borrow material?) These DVD's are also available at the Seattle public library.

The first, That's A Family, gives children from a number of different families an opportunity to present their family to the audience.The families are adopted and biological, gay and straight parented, inter-generational and multiracial. It is appropriate for children and adults and can help start conversations with your children about diversity appreciation and empathy building.

The second DVD is Race: The Power of an Illusion. It was produced by PBS and is an excellent documentary for adult audiences. It is three parts of 50 minutes each. The first covers the myth of a biological basis for race, the second a history of race and the third a look at the results of this history in the present day. The school library just purchased this video and we may be viewing part of it in a workshop later this year, but it is available now for your viewing. Here is the link to the PBS website about it.

The Heterosexual Questionnaire

Hello Parents and Teachers interested in socially just parenting!

One of the things I read over the summer which has stuck with me was a short essay by M. Rochlin titled, “The Heterosexual Questionnaire,” from Privilege: A Reader, edited by Michael Kimmel and Abby Ferber. I have included part of it below from an open Internet source for you to read. Take a look.

1.       What do you think caused your heterosexuality?
2.       When and how did you first decide you were a heterosexual?
3.       Is it possible your heterosexuality is just a phase you may grow out of?
4.       Is it possible that your heterosexuality stems from a neurotic fear of others of the same sex?
5.       If you’ve never slept with a person of the same sex, is it possible that all you need is a good gay lover?
6.       Do your parents know you are straight? Do your friends and/or roommates know? How did they react?
7.       Why do you insist on displaying your heterosexuality? Can’t you just be what you are and keep it quiet?
8.       Why do heterosexuals place so much emphasis on sex?
9.       Why do heterosexuals feel compelled to seduce others into their lifestyle?
10.   A disproportionate majority of child molesters are heterosexual. Do you consider it safe to expose children to heterosexual teachers?
11.   With all the societal support for marriage, the divorce rate is spiraling. Why are there so few stable relationships among heterosexuals?

What struck me about this piece, and will likely strike you as well, was how well it illustrated the concept that certain social identities are considered “normal” in dominant US culture.  Others, not considered “normal,” are made marginal or pathological.  Dr. Steve Jones described these as “one up” or “one down” social identities. The normalization or invisibility of a social identity can be difficult to see if you share that identity, but is often obvious to those who do not share the "normal" identity. This checklist which poses questions from a perspective of homosexual normality, highlights the often invisible normalization of heterosexuality.
We are given information continuously from birth about how these various social identities are valued in our dominant culture, so if you ask older elementary students, “Which is it considered better to be? A ___ or a ____?” they will be able to give answers in line with our dominant United States culture, even if they personally think differently. Some examples from Dr. Steve Jones of our dominant cultural norms:

Social Identity
“One up” group
Racial Identity
European American
Sexual Orientation
Mental function
Fully mentally able
Marital Status
US citizen
Physical ability/ appearance
Able bodied, attractive

 Unfortunately, the value hierarchy of the dominant culture does not need to be taught to be absorbed, as children are already exposed to it hundreds of times per day in large and small ways. However what does need to be explicitly taught is the ability to recognize, reconsider, and eschew the validity of this hierarchy of social identities.
Take care all,

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Curriculum Night

Hello Parents, Teachers and Colleagues,
Last night was curriculum night at our school where our wonderful teachers explained their pedagogy to us adult caregivers. Listening to the teachers describe their teaching philosophy prompts me to review with this group what I see as the fundamental backbone of social justice parenting- the goals of an anti-bias curriculum. These four principles provide structure for our self-education as teachers and parents and a framework for teaching our children. They come from the extensive work of Louise Derman-Sparks and Patricia Ramsey, and I have paraphrased them somewhat here. (For full details, look to their first book or their most recent.)
1. Nurture a healthy self and group identity. What does this mean in practice? Well for my family in which I am raising 2 white boys, it means raising boys with a healthy male gender identity and healthy white racial identity not based in superiority. For another family with different social identities, it may mean raising a daughter of color with a healthy female gender identity and a healthy black racial identity, without internalized racism or gender inferiority.
2. Support an empathic engagement with difference. This is the goal that is commonly thought of when we think of multicultural education. Ideally, it is integrated into a child's daily experience and promotes empathetic appreciation for our common humanity and our myriad differences. The development of empathy through this goal enables children to have the capacity to understand how bias hurts.
3. Develop the ability to think critically about bias. Children are inundated daily with messages about the relative worth of our various social identities in the dominant cultural hierarchy. Certain groups are "one-up" and certain groups are "one-down" in this hierarchy, which may appear so normative to us that we don't recognize the hierarchy unless we are a member of a "one-down" group. Children (and adults) need guidance to develop the ability to think critically about this hierarchy and not passively accept the norms of the dominant culture, especially if they have many "one-up" social identities.
4. Cultivate courage and action. This goal follows from the 3rd goal as children are natural social justice advocates with a strong belief in fairness. In practice, this goal involves teaching children about a variety of ways to act in the face of bias.
We are currently involved in fine-tuning the program for our Discussing Diversity series and will use these principles to guide our learning and our discussion. I am looking forward to a great year and hope you can join us!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

School Begins Again!

Hello Colleagues and Parents interested in social justice,
A big welcome to Jabali Stewart who is our new director of diversity at our school! It is terrific to have him here and I for one feel very lucky. There is new energy and collaboration afoot to create a second year of our Discussing Diversity parent education program. Look for new information about the year's plan which will come out soon.
In the interim, I want to share with you a blog I have found, Coloring Between The Lines, written by a children's book writer and illustrator, Anne Sibley O'Brien. Recently she has been exploring some adult nonfiction looking at how to talk to children about race. Take a look:
One of the books that shifted my perspective the most is the one she recently reviewed, The first R: How Children Learn Race and Racism, which is a sociological observational study looking at the way preschool children in a multicultural classroom manifest racialized power relationships. Many people believe that children are "innocent" to racialized inequality and must be explicitly taught before they behave in a racist manner. However this book suggests that children are aware of and are replicating racialized patterns of inequality from our larger society far far earlier and more frequently than adults are aware. While sobering, this realization has helped me know that we can't teach our children to celebrate multiculturally unless we are also teaching them about social justice, how to resist bias and how to be creators of positive change.
Looking forward to a wonderful year!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Reading List- Part Two

Parent and teacher colleagues,
Here is the second part of a summer reading list- some books I recommend, all of which are engaging, well-written and have changed the way I think about educating our children and engaging the world:
1. Why are all the Black Kids sitting together in the Cafeteria? by Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum is an excellent and thoughtful exploration of racial identity development for children and adolescents.
2. If you read the book above and enjoy it, move on to Can We Talk About Race, also by Dr. Tatum. It is an expansion of four lectures she gave over a period of time on topics related to racial identity and education. Profound and thought provoking.
3. How to Rent a Negro by damali ayo is a sharp satire about the tendency of white folks to embrace "diversity" but to engage simultaneously in micro-aggressions and othering of people of color. Be prepared to be discomfited if you self-identify as white.
4. Whistling Vivaldi by Dr. Claude Steele is a review of the most recent science of stereotypes for non-academics. It looks at the negative effect stereotypes have on their target group's performance and how they can be overcome by simple re-framing.
5. Definitely not beach reading is The Everyday Language of White Racism by Dr. Jane Hill. This is an academic text by a highly esteemed linguist and I recommend it strongly. The first chapter is excerpted to the left under "documents you may be interested in."
6. If you are interested in more detail about the principles and framework of an anti-bias curriculum, look at What if All the Kids are White? Anti-bias Multicultural Education for Young Children and Families. This book gets to the practical aspects of implementing an anti-bias curriculum in a school where the majority of students are non-children of color.
Looking forward to next year and a revised and restructured program for Discussing Diversity!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Kindness/ Love is not a pie

Parents and Teacher Colleagues,
I have been thinking about this question: In the service of what do we strive for social justice? There are a lot of strong feelings that come out through this work; anger, outrage, shame. This is to be expected, because these are powerful dynamics, all have suffered, and many, many have suffered deeply. But it feels to me that working for social justice in the service of anger is limiting and risky.
Dr. Cornel West wrote in Race Matters that his goal was to speak truth to power with love. Dr. Hsiao-Wen Lo, one of the diversity speakers this past year, spoke of the need for greater compassion in this work, not just in the direction of people with privilege to people with less privilege, but from privileged people striving to be allies, to other privileged people who may not be as far along in the work. Her remarks were powerful for me, because the meta-message of what she said was, the work is the expansion of compassion and empathy in a fundamentally restructuring way. i.e. Love is not a pie. The generosity in how she framed the task with such inclusion and expansion was profound.
So I am thinking about what it looks like and feels like to do this work in the service of love. Love not in the context of "being nice" or "liking."Rather love of self and the expansion of empathy and dissolution of self so that love of self encompasses love of other. It is a powerful force of wholeness.
This poem, Kindness, one of my favorites by Naomi Shihab Nye, speaks to this expansion of empathy.

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you every where
like a shadow or a friend.

Naomi Shihab Nye
from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Reading List- Part One

Parent and Teacher Colleagues,

Summer is almost here and as we take a break from the school routine, I want to share with you a couple of interesting websites related to social justice parenting. Some of them are dormant, but contain a lot of interesting material in their archives.

http://cocoamamas.com/about/ "Raising cocoa children in a bittersweet world." An on-going parenting blog for mothers of color.

http://whiteantiracistparent.blogspot.com/ This site is dormant but has very interesting observations from a white mother working towards anti-racism as she raises her child.

http://sociallyjustparenting.org/ A recent and active site written by a friend of Dr. Moore. "Resources for raising our children to create a more socially just world."

http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/ This is a dormant site but contains a wealth of material in its archives. The writer is a white male who casts a discerning eye on white culture.

Of course, one of my favorite sites, http://loveisntenough.com/ "Raising a family in a colorstruck world," formerly known as anti-racist parent, is already linked on our blogsite.

Take a look and enjoy!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Dr.Martin Luther King Jr

Parents and Colleagues,

Have you read the interview Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave to Playboy magazine in 1965? It is amazing to read. He presents his philosophy and the force of his vision, which are far removed from the simplified versions we hear about every February.

Here's an excerpt about this from Tavis Smiley's interview with Dr. Cornel West:

West: I mean, I think it's very important because you see a lot of chit-chat about Martin every year and Martin has been so domesticated and tamed and defamed, you know, what we call the Santa Clausification of the brother.
Tavis: Wait a minute. Hold the phone, hold the phone. The Santa Clausification of Dr. King, which means what, Dr. West?
West: He just becomes a nice little old man with a smile with toys in his bag, not a threat to anybody, as if his fundamental commitment to unconditional love and unarmed truth does not bring to bear certain kinds of pressure to a status quo. So the status quo feels so comfortable as though it's a convenient thing to do rather than acknowledge him as to what he was, what the FBI said, "The most dangerous man in America." Why? Because of his fundamental commitment to love and to justice and trying to keep track of the humanity of each and every one of us.

Take a look at the interview for yourself if you haven't already: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interview

 Have a memorable Memorial Day.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

How to talk about privilege

Colleagues in parenting and teaching,
I have found the process of explaining the concept of white privilege to white adults to be a tricky business. Have you found this to be true?
With children it has been easier for me. It was my children who first expressed the concept of white privilege to me by noting that if people with dark skin were discriminated against, our family was lucky to have light skin. I remember my alertness at that moment, and the thought of, "We're not supposed to talk about that!" So I have felt myself the reluctance and the sense that if white privilege is acknowledged, the whole house of cards will fall down.
I have found that other forms of privilege are far more acceptable to talk about with white people, class privilege and education privilege being the favorites that are brought up to redirect the conversation away from the uncomfortable topic of racial identity hierarchy and the privilege attached to whiteness. I have found the topic of white skin privilege, as opposed to discussion of other privileges, to be particularly provocative and that it often engenders not just resistance but active rebuke.
There are several reasons for this difference I think. To admit to being the recipient of class and education privilege is a way to modestly brag about one's accomplishments. People tend to believe they have earned the privileges that come with being at the top of the class and education hierarchy. Since white culture values the ideas of meritocracy, Protestant work ethic, and individual competition and attainment, and middle class white Americans have a fair amount of anxiety about how far we and our children will climb in the class/education hierarchy, it is deeply disturbing to be reminded that whiteness is an unearned advantage. Perhaps people think, "I'm struggling here to get my piece of the pie. Now I have to look out for other people too?" and feel overwhelmed and angry. Lastly, discussing white skin privilege or any racial issue raises the fear for white people that they will fulfill the dreaded stereotype that "all white people are racist."
So what to do? Recently I had the pleasure of attending a terrific workshop led by Dr. Steve Jones at the White Privilege Conference. Here is a paper he wrote which discusses privilege and uses the easier-to-access model of right and left handedness to explain it. I send this out as another tool that can be used to facilitate conversation and negotiate resistance. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Discussing Diversity: Religion

We had our last Discussing Diversity session on Thursday evening with Dr. Pamela Taylor, Associate Professor at Seattle University. For those who were unable to attend, here were some of the highlights:

 1. Given the dominant Christian tradition in the United States and the current deep fear of Islam, Dr. Taylor started the session with an exercise with facts and quotations from holy books and we had to decide which applied to Judaism, Christianity and/or Islam. This exercise made clear the deep commonalities between these three Abrahamic religions, which are surprising even to those well versed in their own religious tradition. We also viewed a trailer for the documentary, "Three Faiths, One God: Judaism, Christianity, Islam" which Dr. Taylor recommends for those interested in learning more this. Here's a link.
2. We then had a far ranging discussion touching on atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism and our own personal stories. Noted was the challenge of respecting the traditions of our families and of others without being silent about the unfairness in the practice of religion towards the LGBTQ community and other religious traditions, for example.
Dr. Taylor's advice boils down to things we have already learned to be true about an ideal anti-bias curriculum:
a. Know your own traditions and beliefs and celebrate them with your children (Knowledge of self and group identity.)
b. Be knowledgeable about other people and groups. Read about and experience different traditions. (Empathic engagement with difference.)
c. Be mindful of your language and speak out against jokes and slurs and harmful myths and stereotypes. Silence sends a message that you are in agreement. (Ability for critical thinking and taking action.)
3. Some children's books that I have found helpful are: (click on links to take you to Amazon if you like)

Monday, May 2, 2011

Good Whites and Bad Whites: A false Dichotomy

Parents and Colleagues
I would like to share with you an essay I wrote recently about the tensions which can exist for white people who are interested in race and racism. Take a look.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Stuff White People Like

Parents and Colleagues,

One of the books I have read over the past year which has shaped my thinking on teaching about diversity is What if All the Kids are White? Anti-Bias Multicultural Education with Young Children and Families, by Louise Derman-Sparks and Patricia Ramsey. In it, they elaborate on the four goals of an anti-bias education, first outlined by Derman-Sparks in 1989, which can be boiled down to:

 1. Healthy self and group member identity
2. Empathic engagement with difference
3. Ability to think critically about the value hierarchy assigned to difference
4. Taking action

 These goals are not just for your children but can be sought by parents and teachers. While your school may have a director of diversity, every parent or teacher is the director of diversity in her family or classroom and needs these skills. Thinking about it as a skill set to be developed around the topic of difference is helpful because it helps us recognize that having a particular identity does not automatically mean one has skills.

 For white children in particular, "diversity education" usually involves an exploration of goal 2, i.e. Black History Month, multicultural celebrations, learning about the cultures of indigenous peoples. However the important skills for white children of goal 1, developing a healthy white racial identity without superiority, and goal 3, an ability to critically examine the spoken and unspoken messages about hierarchy in our culture, are undeveloped.

 Fear not though. I envision our ongoing discussion as parents and educators circling around ways to implement these goals and to build diversity appreciation skills in ourselves and our children.

 As a first step in that process, for self-identifying white readers of these emails, I include the link to the full list of Stuff That White People Like. This blog has the benefit of being very funny and for helping white people see that they DO have culture and group identity (even if it is a white culture different from that of the white people teased in the blog.) Hope you enjoy the humor!

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Class Divided- the work of Jane Elliott

Dear Colleagues and Parents!
I am sending this link to a Frontline documentary on Jane Elliott and her work. It was originally aired in 1984 and re-aired in 2004 and is the most requested Frontline episode.  It references the original documentary on Jane Elliott, Eye of the Storm, and her work with children and adults on understanding discrimination and developing empathy. It lasts about 50 minutes and can provoke some strong feelings, so I would not recommend viewing with children without preview.
If you click on the first "chapter" it should run continuously. There is a plethora of information on the PBS website as well if you are interested after viewing.
Have a wonderful weekend!

I can fix it!

Hello Parents and Colleagues,
Here is a link to an engaging, tongue-in-cheek outline of 5 things people can do to stop racism. Take a look.
One of the recommended projects is something you can try this week:

"See white people. If you are going to identify a person by their race, make sure you identify all people by their race. That means saying “I saw this white man.” Don’t let white be the default race. Spend a week identifying white people by their race, see how it affects you."

Monday, April 11, 2011

Microaggressions paper from Janine

This is such a knowledgeable and sophisticated group! See below an article recommended by Janine on microaggression, which lays a theoretical foundation for the concept. Thank you Janine for your expertise.

Totem Poles at SeaTac

Parents and colleagues,
Last night at a social gathering of kindergarten mothers, we had an interesting conversation about the totem poles at the airport. One parent shared her perception that the totem poles did not make her feel that Pacific Northwest native peoples were being honored, rather that the totem poles were a token attempt and actually referenced a more generic Pacific Northwest identity, ie salmon, totem poles, seahawks iconography. We talked about the way that Native American cultures can be appropriated by the dominant white culture and lumped indiscriminately together. Also that the "tokenism" actually glosses over the history of white genocide and land appropriation of native peoples.
In light of this discussion I am including two links. The first is a book discussed in the recent NYT book review about Isaac Stevens and the Nisqually tribe, and the other is a wonderful website, http://www.oyate.org/,  for people interested in books about native cultures, and specifically their guidelines about which books to avoid.

Racism 101

Hello parent colleagues,
Here is a link to a list which I found interesting. It is from a website/blog called "Resist Racism."
Happy Spring!

Parents talking about race

Parents and Colleagues
Here is a link to an interesting article my sister mailed me. Looks like we are on the forefront of a larger sociological trend. Keep up the good work!

Implicit Association Test

Parents and colleagues,
Here is a link to the implicit association test, a social science project from Harvard which examines hidden biases. Take a demo test or two and see what you think!
More info:

Project Implicit

Project Implicit blends basic research and educational outreach in a virtual laboratory at which visitors can examine their own hidden biases. Project Implicit is the product of research by three scientists whose work produced a new approach to understanding of attitudes, biases, and stereotypes.
The Project Implicit site (implicit.harvard.edu) has been functioning as a hands-on science museum exhibit, allowing web visitors to experience the manner in which human minds display the effects of stereotypic and prejudicial associations acquired from their socio-cultural environment.

It's Elementary

Parents colleagues!
This is a link to the movie strongly recommended for parents and teachers by Nathan Shara who spoke at the last Discussing Diversity session on teaching our children about LGBTQ issues.