I Was A Racist Preschooler (And So Were All My Friends) But I Didn’t Have To Be

:: A Statement of Intent ::

We teach young white children the color of everything around them, except themselves.

I believe children are inherently brilliant and full of creativity and radical notions of fairness; and I believe that the only real way to effect cultural change is to justly and lovingly educate children. I think children deserve an education system that is honest with them about the ways this country will encourage them to be violent and gives them space and tools to imagine ways of being much more rooted in love and resistance of power. I feel very compelled and a deep responsibility to reject violence being committed in the name of my whiteness, or Americanness, or cis-ness, or any other part of my identity.

I believe that failing to responsibly and lovingly educate our children with the language and tools to understand identities such as race, gender, sexuality and class, as well as the power structures that accompany them, is negligent. I believe that children are inherent revolutionaries but the culture of power encourages that out of them. I believe adults owe young children the respect and love it takes to help them foster the intellectual and emotional resources they need to create a world better than the one in which they were born.

This country not only has no structural apparatus but few models for how to educate children not into the American status quo, but out of it. In our age of colorblind racism, talking to children about race, and subsequent violence, is deemed either not age appropriate, or somehow reinforcing racism. I believe this to be a gross misunderstanding. Children are offered language to describe almost everything around them, except race. But those children still live in a world in which all people’s access to money, jobs, power, freedom and visibility is deeply reliant upon the color of their skin or the texture of their hair. And regardless of the silence of educators and parents, children notice this. When they are given no other explanation for deep and visible inequality and prejudice, it is hard to expect them to come to any conclusion than the only one that seems logical—that it is earned.

I believe that educating young children, in a developmentally caring and brave manner, is the single most powerful tool we have at our disposal to begin to dismantle white supremacy.

 

Thanks to Raising @RaceConscious Kids for inspiration for some of this language.

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