Dear PLATO Community:
Together we grieve the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade, and so many others before them. I hope the resulting protests for racial justice make us critically examine the systems we are part of that are built on and sustained by institutional oppression – specifically, anti-Black racism.
Black lives always matter.
The research is clear. Between ages 2-5, children internalize racial bias and display attitudes similar to adults. By age 12, many children become set in their beliefs. Caring and invested educators and parents unintentionally perpetuate anti-Black racism by promoting a colorblind approach to race stemming from their discomfort navigating conversations on race. Not talking about race reinforces racism in young children; talking about it encourages the development of positive attitudes and skills needed to advocate for racial justice. As members of an organization committed to introducing philosophy and critical thinking to young people, we understand our responsibility to center issues of anti-Black racism, equity, and inclusion as part of our daily work.
Children may have many questions about what is happening right now – questions about racism, police violence, protests, morality and justice. They may also be feeling a range of emotions. Engaging in philosophical inquiry is a powerful way to give children the space they need to ask difficult questions and process complex ideas. At the end of this email, I have included a list of resources that might help you discuss race with young people. A word of caution: many young people, especially Black children, are emotionally fatigued from recent events and may not want to talk about race right now; others may welcome the opportunity. Assess and respect where your students are emotionally, and let them direct the discussion.
We can be effective allies in the fight against systemic racism in countless ways – at home, at work, and in our communities. This includes the difficult and ongoing work of confronting our own implicit biases and acknowledging that we need to do more. Because of the pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted folks of color for whom the status quo has always been unjust, I have heard many people voice their hopes for a post-pandemic world that takes better care of its people and the environment. Let that vision specifically include a commitment to racial justice. It starts with us.
Executive DIrector, PLATO
- “Coming Together: Standing Up to Racism. A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Kids and Families” on Saturday, June 6, at 10 a.m. ET.
- An Antiracist Reading List (for adults) – New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/29/books/review/antiracist-reading-list-ibram-x-kendi.html
- Anti-Racist Reading List (for adults): https://www.napabookmine.com/antiracist-reading-list
- Anti-Racism Books for Kids – New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/02/parenting/kids-books-racism-protest.html
- The 2020 Ultimate List of Diverse Children’s Books: http://hereweeread.com/2019/11/the-2020-ultimate-list-of-diverse-childrens-books.html
- 31 Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and Resistance: https://www.embracerace.org/resources/26-childrens-books-to-support-conversations-on-race-racism-resistance
- Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup: https://www.prettygooddesign.org/blog/Blog%20Post%20Title%20One-5new4
- How to Talk to Kids About Race and Racism: https://www.parenttoolkit.com/social-and-emotional-development/advice/social-awareness/how-to-talk-to-kids-about-race-and-racism
- How to Talk to Kids About Race, Racism, and Police Violence: https://www.wbur.org/onpoint/2020/06/02/teach-talk-children-racism-violence-protests-race
- Talking to Kids About Race: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/family/in-the-news/talking-about-race/
- 100 Race Conscious Things You Can Say to Your Child – Conversation Starters http://www.raceconscious.org/2016/06/100-race-conscious-things-to-say-to-your-child-to-advance-racial-justice/
- How White Parents Can Talk About Race – NPR: https://www.npr.org/2020/05/31/866426170/raising-white-kids-author-on-how-white-parents-can-talk-about-race
- Teaching Tolerance: https://www.tolerance.org/
- Teaching for Black Lives (book): https://www.rethinkingschools.org/books/title/teaching-for-black-lives
- What Educators Should and Should Not Do in Response to George Floyd’s Death – Education Week: https://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/classroom_qa_with_larry_ferlazzo/2020/06/what_educators_should_and_should_not_do_in_response_to_the_killing_of_george_floyd.html
- 10 Things Every White Teacher Should Know When Talking About Race – Angela Watson: https://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/truth-for-teachers-podcast/10-things-every-white-teacher-know-talking-race/
- Why Conversations about Race Belong in the Classroom – University of Southern California: https://rossieronline.usc.edu/youth-and-racism/racism-in-the-classroom
- Teaching Race: Pedagogy and Practice – Vanderbilt University: https://cft.vanderbilt.edu/guides-sub-pages/teaching-race/
- Table Talk: George Floyd, Racism, and Law Enforcement – Anti-Defamation League: https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/george-floyd-racism-and-law-enforcement
- Middle School Level lessons – Anti-Defamation League: https://www.adl.org/education-and-resources/resources-for-educators-parents-families/lessons?ed_cat_id%5b176%5d=176&ed_cat_id%5b216%5d=216&ed_cat_id%5b230%5d=230&grd_lvl%5bmiddle-school%5d=middle-school