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Teaching Race In Early Childhood..

I remember learning and singing this song during my time as an early childhood student. I can recall us sitting along the edge of the circle shaped carpet (reminiscent of the world), holding hands, and belting out the lyrics to this true, but not truly lived song. Were us Brown and Black children being fooled during our younger most vulnerable years? Did they forget to inform us that yes – the world is a rainbow, but not all the colors were treated equally? Were we being setup to believe this inconsistency, so that we “the minority students” would feel that every small injustice experienced was JUST for the protection of the majorities comfort.

So now I pose this question, should early childhood be the start of having the real conversations about race and equality? The research has shown (air quotes) that success starts at birth, so why shouldn’t acceptance and truth about racial inequality begin their too.

I know many of you will read this and not quite understand. You might want to stop reading this post and call me a few colorful words that I am sure I have heard before, but before you do – think about it. When did you begin to learn the truth about race and inequality? Was it negatively or positively pressed upon you? Where you taught to hate or love other races? What is your truth? Remember we are taught that the world is a beautiful rainbow, but never honestly taught the truth of how those colors truly coexist.

We teach children at an early age how to problem solve and to avoid talking to strangers. We teach them right from wrong and how to make friends. Explaining the processes of each and the rules that govern those situations, but we never really show them that their is a invisible divide that will either benefit or harm them. What if started teaching them about the affects of slavery and the Civil Rights Movement – no not just the ugly but the unity of all the colors of the rainbow coming together to increase liberty and justice for all. Maybe this early education will decrease the amount of inequality we see now. Maybe the future will be brighter because we now have educated youngsters who have truth about what could happen if we truly worked together and face the facts. There is documented truth that unity increases the growth of all communities.

But what if we taught them more than just eurocentric history and taught them about the influences of all the colorful people of the world. What If We Taught Them That :

  1. Rose Parks was cuffed and jailed because she refused to sit in the back of the bus.

  2. White People and other people of color marched from Selma to Montgomery to fight against injustice.

  3. That rules and regulations are not the same for all people.

  4. Life will be extremely hard for most, but sweet for some.

  5. I could go on and on………..

But think about it. What if we exposed the reality of the world to children during those years of sponge like learning, so that they are able to beget the change we need and want to see in the world. We can’t continue to raise ignorant White children and cautious Black children. We have to begin to develop the minds of our future leaders, so that this current day reality isn’t a future day norm.

“Kids love to hear [that] bad things happen and people change it,” she said. “People can make injustice into justice. There are heroes — real heroes — in the world. … And it’s that framework that makes it really useful to children.” – Julie Olsen Edwards

If we started to engage children in these conversations at an early age, there could be an tremendous shift in the amount of hatred and inequality shown towards people of color. Then maybe the words of the “The World is a Rainbow” could be the true staple of human existence in dear ole america. Maybe one day we actually could live in great harmony, but right now we are a misguided orchestra of instrumentalists collectively working solo.

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