On Day One this year, teachers of preschoolers or kindergarteners at parochial schools just might want to send home a copy of Alicea Jones’ Raising Anti-Racist Children in their students’ backpacks. In this small booklet, parents will find a clear definition of racism as well as chapters on how racism manifests itself: for instance, “Pondering Privilege” and “Teaching Children About Inequality.” Throughout, there are suggestions for talking with children about acceptance of all people, not ignoring skin color, but celebrating the differences. This publication, intended to open conversations on acknowledging our shared humanity, could provide a simple, strong reference to use with children in times of turmoil throughout the year.
Jones insists that while becoming aware of racism and inequity is a first step for everyone, it isn’t enough. Parents and teachers should encourage students to become upstanders who will call out instances of bullying or racial injustice when they see it. About reconciliation, Jones quotes Dr. Tony Evans, who says: “…reconciliation starts with service to others, not seminars. Intentionally build a bridge with someone different from you and then the two of you go and serve somebody else.” Jones includes actionable ideas here.
Intended as a resource for understanding the perspectives of people of color, Jones wrote Raising Anti-Racist Children in response to White friends who wondered how they might make a difference. To do that, she notes, we need to take a look at where each of us stands in terms of bias. Think about how peoples’ beliefs about others might manifest themselves in overt or covert behavior and collectively seep into our institutions. Evidence of a problem has long been apparent in our criminal justice system, discipline rates in schools, and the “special monitoring” that often plagues people of color. The author gently moves from facts and statistics to simple, doable actions without being preachy.
I recommend this book for Mothers Day Out programs and preschools operating within churches. One thing to note: Because of her great faith, Jones makes occasional references to passages from the Bible. She does this to highlight her belief in bringing up children to build a “legacy for a better world” by ditching notions of superiority based on skin color and embracing cultural diversity to drive out hate so that kids may, at a young age, “build a foundation of love for all mankind, regardless of what race or culture they were born into.”