Rarely people take pleasure in talking about the “Elephant” in the room, especially if that elephant is race. Because it is such a difficult topic to address we much rather prefer to choose a colorblind approach to race acting as if we can not see it and it does not exist at times. We are guilty of wanting to sweep the issue underneath the rug as opposed to educating ourselves around it and collaboratively coming together as educators or caretakers with the best strategies on how to address it effectively. The fact still remains that it is not an issue that is going to go away so why not confront it as opposed to avoiding to talk about it?
Avoidance is what we have a tendency to do when the topic of race peeks it’s head up. We avoid the topic in the classrooms, on our jobs, in our homes, and around our children. Although we as adults would much rather talk about anything other than race children notice race as early as three months old. Experiments have demonstrated that white, black, and Asian infants have a tendency to stare longer at faces from their own racial group or familiar racial groups instead of faces from other less familiar racial groups. Between the ages of three and four years, old children have the ability to accurately as well as consistently identify others by race. If we do not effectively teach children about race and cause them to be more aware of the diversity of race at an early age we set them up for failure. So how do we approach race in a healthy way that will benefit our children now and in the long run? Through celebrating one’s race as well as the race of others.
Celebrating one’s own race is the first step for educators in addressing the issues of race in the classrooms or for parents and caregivers in the home. Children need to see you owning, celebrating and taking pride in your own race. Children unknowingly follow our lead. When you teach a child as early on as possible how important it is to celebrate their own race they now innately have a healthier perspective about their own skin color and race. When we then expose them to other races effectively they will in return have a healthy perspective about celebrating other races. Failure to teach children about celebrating their own race as well as the race and skin color of others leads to an unhealthy perspective on race. Similarly, when a child is taught how to celebrate their own race and skin color but not to celebrate others the effects can be quite damaging. How will that play out? A child of a different race would want to interact and play with a child but because their skin color is different the child is less susceptible to playing with the child simply because their skin color is different from the child’s own. As educators teaching children to celebrate one’s own race is equally important to teach them to embrace the race of others.
Embracing one’s own race and skin color as well as others willingly and enthusiastically also gives children a healthy perspective on race, after all, we lead by example. Children willingly embracing diversity creates a lifestyle of inclusion that causes children to feel good about themselves. When children feel good about themselves and their race embracing the race of others happens naturally. Race may be a difficult issue to discuss but silence never solves the problem. As educators, parents, and caretakers we should proactively look for age-appropriate and effective ways to address issues of race in our classrooms, schools, and homes.
In additions to many amazing children’s books geared toward embracing and celebrating the diversity of others, mine is soon to be released. (February 2019)
This book is designed for children ages 3 and up. This book teaches children the values of embracing and loving their skin color as well as embracing and loving the skin colors of others. This book also teaches children from a place of inclusiveness to embrace skin colors that may appear to be different such as albinos and children with skin disorders. Nonetheless, it reinforces how much we are the same on the inside.
Follow me on Instagram for updates on the release date https://www.instagram.com/daisycopelin1/