Today, we mourn the loss and celebrate the legacy of Nelson Mandela (Madiba). As we bring this conversation into the classroom, we must remember that Mandela’s life was more than just soundbites, but a struggle for justice against many who wished to deny it. This struggle for justice is not over and the lessons of Mandela’s life must live on in our teaching and activism.
Facing History has a great toolkit for Teaching the Life of Nelson Mandela.
Make sure you read Colorline’s piece, Mandela, The Unapologetic Radical, as well.
Feel free to email us to share your own resources with the Border Crossers community.
When Gina Parker Collins, founder of parent organization RIISE and recipient of the 2013 Border Crossers Community Partner Award, asked me to write a blog post for her audience on talking about race, I balked. “No, no,” she said. “My parents need to understand why it’s important to talk about race and how to do it.” I agreed to do it, and thus was born “5 Myths of Talking About Race With Your Child.”
Based on the overwhelmingly positive response to that piece, I’ve had a lot of unexpected opportunities to speak with many individuals and parent groups about talking about race with their children. This experience has been extremely useful as in fielding the questions that have come up based on Jennifer Harvey’s piece on HuffPo last week titled, “For Whites (Like Me): On White Kids.” In his piece, Harvey deconstructs the colorblind myth with compelling research and anecdotal evidence. She clearly illustrates the importance of speaking concretely about race with white children.
Since then, I have been having conversations with many of the white parents in Border Crossers’ networks about what we can do with this gap in white parent education about how to talk to children about whiteness. In agreement with the study cited in Harvey’s piece about African-American parents speaking to their children about race at age 3, while white parents don’t do so until age 13, the parents I have been speaking to know they need tools for better understanding whiteness and taking action for racial justice as white parents – and there aren’t enough out there.
To this end, I would like to offer a “starter kit” few resources for parents (read: people) who are looking for next steps:
1. The First R (Ausdale and Faegan, 2001)
2. Everyday Antiracism – compiled with teachers in mind, totally applicable to parenting (Pollock, ed., 2008)
3. Nurture Shock – particularly Ch 3, “Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race” (Bronson and Merryman, 2009)
4. Courageous Conversations About Race – particularly Ch 10, “The Sixth Condition: Let’s Talk About Whiteness” (Singleton and Linton, 2006)
5. Colorlines.com (daily)
1. Attend a Border Crossers workshop! Our next “Talking About Race with K-5″ workshop is on September 21 and we always encourage parents to attend. Register here.
2. Attend an event by RIISE or The Independent School Diversity Network in New York.
3. Attend a racial justice training by The Applied Research Center, Crossroads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training or The People’s Institutes’ Undoing Racism.
4. Donate to Border Crossers’ racial justice work within the institution of education. For more information about how to maximize the impact of your gift, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Ask questions; position yourself as a lifelong learner.
2. Be ready to be honest with yourself. The deeper you dig, the most you will find out about yourself – the good, the bad and the ugly.
3. Find people who you trust, with whom to be accountable.
4. Leave room for grace. We’ve all inherited a messy system of racist institutions that permeate into almost every aspect of our identity as a nation. We must all pick up the pieces and work together to build a new system that is compassionate and just.
This is not a comprehensive list, but a start. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com to add your own resources!
Executive Director, Border Crossers
“Why Don’t We Have Any White Kids?” (May 11, 2012)
“Here Are Easy Ways to Have Tough Talks With Kids About Race” (February 20, 2012)
“The Horrific Death of Shaima Alawadi and the Many Lessons of Hate” (March 30, 2012)
The Root: “How to talk to kids about race” (February 21, 2012)
Facing History And Ourselves: “Using Facing History to Talk With Students About Race” (February 20, 2012)
The Pulse at Ohio State
“Talking About Colors Other Than Crayons: Should Race Be a Topic in Elementary Classrooms?” (March 23, 2012)
Socially Just Parenting Project
“Talking With Kids About Race” (February 21, 2012)
“Three Tips for Social Entrepreneurs: Balancing Work with the Holidays” (December 6, 2011)
“Community Clean Up” (April 27, 2011)
NYC Private Schools Blog
“Private and Public Schools Come Together to ‘Green’ West 61st Street” (Nov 23, 2009)
“Schools Build Community Around West 61st Street” (June 19, 2010)
“Border Crossers” (June 2009)