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!

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