The following is a copy of a talk the creator of Reflections gave at BECA's 2nd Annual Talking to Children About Race Conference. The contents of the speech explain a little about why and how Reflections was developed.
I went to several talks, discussions
and book groups on the subject of talking about race. I talked to my friends
of color about their experiences. I did research on the internet and found
that yes it is completely normal for young children to notice racial differences
and that we actually are doing a disservice to our children by ignoring
Although my intentions are good, I
often seem to go a little overboard when it comes to my own children.
One night, after reading “All the Colors of the Earth” and
“All the Colors we Are” for the hundredth time my daughter
said to me, “I know, I know, we all have melanin!” and I realized
that I was coming across as lecturing to her and that what I really needed
was a dialogue.
Then the floodgates opened. One person
suggested I apply for a grant to fund the project, another person knew
of a grant that fit my needs, as I started writing the grant proposal
I had a dozen people help me. Having no formal training or experience
in education, curriculum development, grant writing, public speaking or
photography, there were many times I found myself in un-chartered waters.
To me the process became a great learning experience of learning to talk
about something I had never talked about. I made many mistakes, stuck
my foot in my mouth a dozen times, and many times, especially at night,
wished I had never started this project. But the enthusiasm from others
kept me motivated and last spring I was awarded a grant to fund the project.
What we developed is called Reflections of Community. Reflections is an
anti-bias curriculum for young children. Through art projects parents
or teachers can broach the subject of race with children. Reflections
comes as a kit with the photographic images, art project suggestions,
topics of discussion, and a suggested reading list. Reflections will also
include information for a web page that will include a bulletin board
discussion area. By next summer, Reflections will be available, hopefully
free of charge, to anyone in Yolo County.
When I thought about why I was asked
to present here today I think it is because of this: I am a perfect example
of a woman who could have easily continued going through life enjoying
white privilege and turning a blind eye to racial issues. I could have
just as easily shushed my children when they noticed racial differences
and by not educating them, I could have made it easy for them to unintentionally
hurt the feelings of friends of color in their classrooms or at the park.
I could have continued ignoring these issues and perhaps someday it would
be my children yelling racial slurs at a basketball game and not understanding
why what they were saying was offensive. As parents and teachers in a
community that is not very racially diverse, it is even more important
that we address the issue of race with our children. I choose to use art
projects, books, and my own continuing education in our home. I urge each
of us to figure out what works best for our own families and act upon
it. If it isn’t something you can find or that comes easily, then
ask around and figure out how to make it work. Talking about race can
be uncomfortable at first for many of us, but that doesn’t mean
we shouldn’t do it. I hope for the sake of all of our children and
for the future of our community that we don’t take the easy way
I came to this conference last year a different person. I arrived here very nervous, not sure of what to expect, not really certain what my questions were, and with positively no idea of any solutions. Now, a year later, I feel much more empowered. Through education and talking, I now have a much stronger comprehension of racism and how it affects us all in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. I also have a much better understanding of how to address the issue of race with my children. Now, instead of cringing when they ask a question, I am happy for the opportunity to talk about our differences and similarities, confident in my answers.