Racism and the Lifelong Impact it has on Children by Deedee Cummings
I was 7 years old when I realized I was Black. I was 47 years old when I discovered that it does not matter what color our skin is, and the idea of “race” was a social construct.
In the second grade, my class was given a standardized test. As part of the pretest process, the test had a series of fill-in-the-bubble answers that told the test-giver more about us as students. When I came to the question regarding race, I filled in “white.” As a child of a biracial family, I identified as white because my dad is white.
I was surprised and embarrassed when my teacher laughed, patted me on my head, and erased the bubble I filled in for white.
“Honey, you’re Black,” she told me as she filled in the corresponding bubble on my behalf. To this day I can feel her hand on my head and hear the word “Black” as she stretched it into three syllables.
To read this piece in its entirety and learn more about the Multicultural Children’s Book Day free Classroom Kit, Conversations, Books, and Kids: Raising Awareness on Systemic Racism in America, GO HERE.
- Speak up when you see something wrong or someone who needs support.
- Give your classroom and your bookshelves a thorough audit.
- Teach accurate history regarding the history of racism in our country.
- Be aware of any racial trauma your students or children in your life may have suffered.
- Teach children what racism is and how it may look to them in their daily life.
- Encourage children to call out racism the same way we encourage children to call out bullying.
- Explain that racism is not always committed by bad people.
- Talk about how people are harmed by racism even when those acts are not overtly intentional.
- Make sure your environment models inclusive behaviors.
- Make it a practice to lean towards listening and empathy, not towards speaking and defending. You do not always have to respond or react.
Learn more about the Multicultural Children’s Book Day free Classroom Kit, Conversations, Books, and Kids: Raising Awareness on Systemic Racism in America, HERE.
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