I admit to being one of white privilege. But, I want to learn how to speak intelligently and respectfully about race and culture in the classroom. I understand my second graders see through the lens of their own experience. But, looking at my classroom library I don’t see enough fiction stories with a wide variety of children. I’m reading aloud Ranger in Time Long Road to Freedom by Kate Messner. My students are needing all kinds of historical context in order to understand why children could possibly be owned by another human being at any time in history. I know there are children in slavery all over the world in the year 2016. But its easier to tell my students we don’t have slavery in our country that is legal any more. What is not easy is sharing with my students the reality of the racial and cultural prejudice people face on a daily basis. I think it is important to help them understand there are still very real prejudices and hatred being voiced in the media toward groups of people because of the color of their skin or the religion they choose. So I’m trying to make sure and include this in the context of their present. When I write the 1700, 1800, 1900, and 2000’s on the board in a timeline to show the conflicts about race and culture that have already been part of our country’s history, I can’t help but include the recent issues about immigration in the 2000’s and the #blacklivesmatter movement going on right now. I want my students to know the struggle is not over for equality and working toward the treatment all people with dignity and respect. I want them to be informed so they can be part of the change. I don’t claim to speak from experience. I want to know where people are not treated fairly so I can speak on their behalf intelligently and compassionately. Please let me know what you are doing in your classroom to help your students make sense of what is going on in our world. I know it needs to be a conversation where we share our stories and learn from each other. Please feel free to share your own story so we can learn together.
Being Brave: Teach Me About Race