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.

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.