Talking to Children
About Race

Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock will help attendees understand that children begin making meaning of race at very early age. She will share why educators, parents, & guardians should be focused on having race-based conversations with kids and demonstrate how her organization navigates these tough conversations using literacy-based strategies.

With Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock

Crissy Fishbane:

I am Crissy Fishbane. Cindi Michaelson is my business partner. We founded HER Health Collective to offer a supportive community for moms. One of the biggest things that we want to connect moms with are experts. We bring in a lot of health experts as well as experts on many current and relevant topics, like Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock who we are thrilled to have joining us.

 

Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock is the co-founder and Executive Director of we are. Which stands for “Working to Extend Anti-Racist Education.” As a non-profit, we are provides anti-racism training for children, families and educators. They use a three prong approach to dismantle systemic racism in education and beyond by offering summer camps for kids in rising 1st – 5th grade, workshops for parents and families, and professional development for educators.

 

We are certainly at a time in life where this work is so very much needed. So, we are thrilled to have Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock with us today. I’m going to go ahead and turn it over to her so she can dive right in.

 

There will be an opportunity for you to ask questions at the end, so if you have a question that pops up, write it down or save it somewhere. You can use the chat feature or come off mute to ask your question at the end. Without further ado, I’m going to go ahead and turn it over.

 

Dr. Bullock:

Good afternoon everyone! Thank you all so much for taking the time out of your schedule to be here in this space today and also in the midst of everything that’s going on. We have the Covid pandemic and we are in the midst of a racism pandemic. I’m really appreciative of folks who have the space and the capacity to be a part of these conversations considering all that is happening in our world and around us and within our own families.

 

As Crissy said, my name is Ronda Taylor Bullock and I am the co-founder and lead curator for we are, which stands for Working to Extend Anti-racist Education. We provide anti-racism training for children, families and educators. We use a three pronged approach to dismantle systemic racism in education and beyond by offering summer camps for kids in rising 1st through 5th grade, professional development for educators and workshops for parents and families.

 

Today, I am joined by our summer intern Ndasia Gerald and I’ll allow her to introduce herself.

 

Ndasia Gerald:

Hey everybody! I’m Ndasia Gerald. I’m interning with we are this summer. I’m currently a senior at North Carolina A&T and I’m majoring in Elementary Education. I’m happy to be here with you all today and I hope you all enjoy the presentation.

 

Dr. Bullock:

So, today we are going to do a presentation called Race Based Conversations with Kids Matter. What we are going to start with, is I will share a little bit more information about we are. For some of you this might be the first time you’re hearing about us. If it is your first time, give us a thumbs up or a wave. Even put something in the chat box to let us know that you haven’t heard of us before and that this is your first time.

 

I just want you all to have a better understanding of who we are as an organization. I’d like to share a little bit more about my background story and then we’re going to hop in to talk about how to have race based conversations with kids. Today’s conversation is called, “Race Based Conversations with Kids Matter.”

 

Now, I will tell you we just have a little bit of time today and so you’ll have to continue to engage on this journey. You’re not going to get all the answers today, plus I don’t have them all but I’m going to share a little bit of information for you and how we navigate that space for ourselves.

 

One of the things that I think is important is that as we build community and one of the things that’s inherent with we are, is we believe that as you get to know one another, it helps us build connections. We also believe, and there’s research that shows that when we’re in relationships with people, our biases are least likely to show up.

 

What we’re going to do before we even hop into the information part is you need to get to know who the other people are here, because these people can become your community. They can become your co-conspirators to work alongside you. It’s good to know who else is interested in doing this type of work so you know you’re not out here alone. So, I’m going to break us into small groups and you’re going to introduce yourselves. Share your name, your role or connection to this community and what are you bringing to this space.

 

I’ll model it first and then you all will go off and be able to do it in your small groups. My name again is Ronda Taylor Bullock. I am the lead curator for we are and today I’m bringing disrupted peace. That is what I’m bringing to this place.

 

Please note that this is a practice that we borrowed from Spirit House, which is a local black women lead organization. Local as in Durham, North Carolina. We just want to cite them because this is a practice that they use that we really love.

 

I will put you all into small break out groups of about 3-4 folks in your group. Once you get in there, you all will go forward with introducing yourselves.

 

As people are coming back into the main session, I’d just like to share just a little bit more background information about us. Each year we host an event called the Let’s Talk Racism Conference. The target audience for this conference is educators however every year we have parents, community members, high school students who come to participate.

 

We co-sponsored this event with North Carolina Central University School of Education, The Samuel Dubois Cook Center on Social Equality at Duke, and Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. This year unfortunately we had to postpone the conference due to Covid-19. Every year we host it in March. What we decided to do is re-do the same thing we were going to do this year, next year. So please save the date and time for Friday and Saturday, March 19-20, 2021. The keynote that Friday night and that Saturday is a full day of break-out sessions geared towards educators, parents, community members and students. Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Cheryl E. Matias. She was out of University of Denver Colorado and just took a new job at Kentucky. She will be speaking on becoming anti-racist educators.

 

Two other events that we host, one is the Educator Summer Institute. Again, while it’s geared towards educators we have had parents, church members, church leaders, people who work with vacation bible school and community members. They want to know and learn how racism is structural and how it intersects with the educational system. We encourage people to come in teams of three because we spend time in those teams in the afternoon naming a systemic inequity issue in their local context. We help them develop a plan to address it once they get back into their local setting.

 

This year, rather than cancelling, we decided to do it virtually. It worked out really well. Three days of virtual learning. We are open to hosting it again this year, normally we just do it during the summer but once we figured out that we could do it virtually, we decided to do it that way.

 

There’s a message in the chat box asking if the Let’s Talk Racism Conference will be virtual next year? We are going to wait until we get a little bit closer to decide. We have come to the conclusion that rather than cancel, we will try to see how we can engage the audience virtually next year. Now that we have a better understanding of Zoom and its functions, we think that we will be able to pull that off.

 

The other event we offer is the Curriculum Workshop. Right now, we’re hoping that it will be in person but if not, it will be virtual as well and that’s later in November.

What I’ve challenged people to do is ask, “How can we deny that we need antiracism work after all that we just experienced, particularly in watching officer Chauvin murder George Floyd, 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Breona Taylor, say her name. Ahmaud Arbery. Elijah McClain.” There are so many spaces who were not having these conversations who are now. We have to capitalize on this moment.

- Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock

we are Summer Camps

We get a lot of questions about how we are having this conversation with kids. Can you start a camp here? Can you start a camp there? We want to support people to form camps and camp groups in their local context. We decided to create a two day curriculum workshop, bring people to us, share our anti-racism framework and then we give our curriculum for them to use in their classroom, in community or at your church. However you all see fit and if you want to invite us to help support you, then we will certainly do that. That will be taking place in November. Again, we are saying in person, but we may switch that to virtual as well.

 

Our other yearly signature event is Summer Camps. We have a camp for kids in rising 1st-2nd grade and one for kids in rising 3rd-5th grade. We use a literacy based approach to help kids think about race, racism, skin color and activism in very concrete ways.

 

We have books and whatever we teach from, we give a copy to the kids. By the end of the week, every child has a home library of books that helps them think about race, racism, skin color, and activism in these concrete ways.

 

Just for context, we started in 2016 with a pilot of 15. That was one camp. This summer we would have had two camps in Durham and two camps in Greensboro. We were set to have about 15were supposed to hold 150 children between the four camps. Camps sell out every summer and we have a waitlist. It’s definitely something that more and more parents are finding that they would like to be on the journey of raising anti-racist kids.

 

As we jump into this presentation, I’m going to tell you all that what I have to offer you all as far as how to negotiate these conversations with your kids, I’m going to talk about the context of a camp. This is because that’s our learned experience because we’ve created these dialogues and these spaces. For one, we don’t think we’re doing anything that’s rocket science or completely amazing and new. We believe that we’re at a level of intentionality. We want to share what we do because we believe that you can replicate it as parents. We definitely believe that you can replicate it as educators in classrooms and you can do it as community members.

 

Please note that as I’m talking about the camp, it’s going to sound like an advertisement. I’m not trying to sell you anything and I say that because I just want to be transparent. I’m not trying to sell, I’m just trying to tell you that this is how we do it and I think you can do it too. Here are the tools.

 

As I said before, the camp sells out. We go live on February 1st and last year, we were at capacity within two hours. I’m mentioning this because word of mouth sells the camp. That’s how we do it through the camp.

 

These are kids for our 2019 camp (picture seen in slides). The first picture is our 1st-2nd grade camp and had about 50 children. The second picture is of 3rd-5th grade camp and we had about 63 kids there. They did well, are resilient and are amazing kid.

Dr. Bullock's Background

I mentioned that I would share a little about my background and how I came to do this work. I’m a Critical Race Scholar. I do critical race theory specifically and I do critical whiteness studies. I study white children for racial identity construction and I use what I learn to implement in our camps.

 

By telling you all this story, I’m fulfilling one of the tenants of critical race theory, which is “The voices and stories of marginalized communities matter and they should be moved from the margin to the center.”

 

In this first picture, this is my husband Dr. Daniel Calvin Bullock. He is currently the Director of Equity Affairs for Durham Public Schools. He and I met as rising high school seniors at a minority student recruitment program called Project Uplift. At the time, he and I both went to a breakout session on education. I thought, “Look at this black man into education. Let me get to know him.” We actually both took the North Carolina Teaching Fellow Scholarship to UNC Chapel Hill and we became best friends. He was in the friendzone for about 4 years and then by December our senior year, we decided to start dating. As of October 1st this year, we will have been married for 15 years.

 

So, we did the Masters of Arts in Teaching program together at UNC and then we left to go to teach at Hillside High School in Durham together. He was in the Social Studies department and I was in the English.

 

While we were there, we had two kids. We had a son named Zion who is now 9 and a daughter named Ziyear who is 6. We will tell people that when you become a parent, your life changes. When you become a parent and you do anti racism work, your life really changes because you start to think about what you went through and how you want to prevent your children from having those same experiences, even though that’s an unrealistic expectation it doesn’t stop us from trying.

When Race Became Real

When I think back to when race became real for me, I think back to being 5a in Kindergarten. We were sitting at round tables and one of my classmates went around and invited everybody at the round table to her birthday party except for me. I noticed I was being left out so I said, “I noticed that you invited everybody at the table to your birthday party except for me. Why did you do that?”

 

She looked at me and said, “You can’t come to my birthday party because my dad said black people are not allowed in our home.” I didn’t really understand what that meant, remember I was 5 so I went home and I told my mom the story. She’s a little shocked because I’m 5 and she says, “Well, Ronda we don’t invite ourselves to other people’s birthday parties.” I said, “OK mom, I won’t do that again.” Even though that’s not what I thought I did.

 

That answer worked until it happened again at 7. It just so happened that I was the only black kid in Girl Scouts. We were doing a community service project trying to earn a badge. All the girls were in a huddle talking and when I walked up they stopped. What does it mean when you walk up to a group of people and they stop talking? Yes! They’re talking about you!

 

So, I pulled my best friend out of the group and I said, “Hey, when I walked up you all stopped talking. That was weird, why did you do that?” She looked at me and said, “Ronda, please don’t be mad at me. I’m having a birthday party later today and my dad said that you can’t come because you’re black.”

 

I understood more at 7 than I did at 5. At this point, I’m thinking there’s something wrong with me and my skin color because it’s keeping me out of these spaces.

 

I go home and I retell this story to my mom. That time, her answer was different. She spoke to me about racism. She spoke to me about slavery. She spoke with me about Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves, although Abraham Lincoln is a complex figure. My mom did the best she could, as we all are. She spoke with me about white people hating black people because of the color of our skin.

 

I offered these stories to you all because I’ve been awakening since 5. I’ve been paying attention to race and racism since a very early age. These are the stories that undergird my “why,” how I came to do this work, and why I think it’s so important that we do it with young children, educators, parents, and with families.

Why Are We Doing This Work With Young Children?

Often I get asked, “Why are you doing this with young children, Ronda? Kids are color blind, they don’t see race, they’re innocent.” I just want to offer this research to you all as you begin to think about how you’re going to have these conversations with your kids. 

 

  • By 3 months, infants can recognize differences in skin color. (They researched this by tracking their eyes and how they’re moving as color shifts in front of them).
  • By 6 months, babies across racial backgrounds demonstrate a preference for people who share their skin color. (For example, black babies have a pro black preference. Brown babies have a pro brown preference. White babies have a pro white preference. One group where this is not true is for mixed race babies and that’s because they are exposed to different shades of color much earlier on in their home space and safe space than families of other racial groups).
  • By kindergarten, the preference for one’s racial group decreases in all groups, except for one: white children. (Black children shift to pro white, brown children shift to pro white and white children’s love of self increases by kindergarten).

 

I want you all to take a second to read through these quotes and I’d like you to type your initial reactions to them in the chat box.

 

“…because princesses are white. ~ white boy, 1st grade

“My three year old daughter says she doesn’t like Black people.” ~ white male parent

“…the good guys have blue eyes.” ~ five year old Black boy

“…Mexicans must have been out here.” ~ seven year old Black girl

“…I want to make my skin lighter so that the kids at school will play with me.” ~ five year old Black girl

 

I see in the chat box, “Wow, that’s sad.” “Heartbreaking.” “Depressing.” All of those things right? I’m going to explain some of these. If we had more time, I would do all of them but I’m going to pick just a few. When we get to the Q&A, if there is one that you would like to know the story behind that we didn’t get to, just let me know and I’ll go back and revisit it. I’m connected to every one of these quotes.

 

I will start with the first quote. It happened when I was sitting on a panel and a teacher shared this story. She is a Latinx 1st grade teacher and she had a little black girl in her class who was drawing a princess. Her teacher wanted to affirm the little black girl’s identity and so she said, “Is your princess going to be brown?” She said brown and not black because 1st graders don’t really say black and white. They say peach and brown. So, the teacher is basically asking the child if her princess was going to be black. A little white boy overheard her and said, “Princesses can’t be brown because princesses are white.”

 

Where do you think he got the idea that princesses are white? You can either unmute yourself or type it in the chat box.



Participant:

Every Disney movie and fairy tale that any kid has ever seen or read.



Dr. Bullock:

Every Disney movie, fairy tale, media, movies, books. Halloween costumes, dolls, posters, cartoons. All of these things. I tell people that I don’t think this white child intended to cause harm. What I believe is that this child basically said, “I have only seen white princesses, therefore princesses can only be white.” That’s synthesis y’all. That’s higher order thinking for a 1st grader, that a lot of people don’t think 1st graders can do.

 

Not only did he synthesize, he generated knowledge from it. I doubt anybody told him that. I believe he synthesized that information, because that’s a weird thing to tell people. I don’t put it past some parents but I believe that’s what happened there.

 

The next one comes from a parent whose child said, “My three year old daughter says she doesn’t like Black people.” This is from a white male parent. He reached out to because he knows I do anti racism work. He said, “The first time my daughter said she didn’t like black people, we thought that she may have seen a person with a black shirt on.” Sometimes kids will say, you’re “red” because you have a red shirt on or your “white” because you have a white shirt on. That’s how little kids will reference people. So, the parents just dismissed it. Then she did it again and the parents became concerned. I shared with him the first quote example and he said, “We’ve been watching the Elsa (Frozen) movie on repeat at our house.” I told him, “You may not be teaching your daughter things explicitly but she’s paying attention at three. She’s paying attention to the images around her and what’s being communicated about black people around her.

 

If you have the news on or certain shows. If you have family members who make comments, they are listening and making sense, even at three years old.

 

That brings us to why we are doing this work with young children. First of all, children are not color blind and we aren’t either. They see color and race. They are making sense of color and racism at very early ages.

 

Through our camp, we have the goals of helping children develop and foster health racial identities in youth. We help children build a historical understanding of race and racism. We equip families with tool and resources which extend to anti-racist practices in the home and community.

 

We believe that these should be goals and standards in a classroom. We are eventually going to be pushing for policy shifts at local levels and scaling up that develop a healthy racial identity is a part of the curriculum.

Family and Educational Resources

I’m going to share with you a series of books and how we use them. Please note that you can access our book list here.

 

One of the first things, if you haven’t already gotten some advice is that when your children say something that is racist, that you don’t shut the child down. If you shut them down, they might stop saying it to you but they might not stop saying it. What you really want to do is get underneath where the thought or idea about this particular group of people, religion etc. where did it come from?

 

You want to ask a question, “Well, what did you mean by that?” “Do you know what that word means?” Then you can educate. You can say, “In our family, we don’t believe this. We don’t agree with this.” Tell them what your family does believe. Come through and educate what it is you want your child to understand.

 

I mentioned this before, that we use a literacy based approach. I think this is so accessible because all of us have the capacity to have books and then use them to mitigate these conversations. We use books and sometimes we use video clips or articles with pictures. Some type of medium because when you’re working with kids, abstract thinking is hard. This isn’t true for every child but for many of them, so you want to have some type of concrete piece to help you carry the conversation forward. It helps it to make sense to the child.

 

One example that I want to model for you all of what we do in our camps. On day one of our camp we talk about the importance of learning to pronounce people’s names correctly. Not pronouncing names correctly is connected to historical racism. Renaming people, not taking the time to learn their name, calling people something that’s not their name, all of that is connected to racism.

 

On the first day, we don’t hop in and list off racism. I believe that you build up to it but again, you know your children better than I do. Your child might be ready to start that first day. Your child may already be coming to you and saying that they’ve heard the word racism and asking what it means.

 

Something else we do is we talk about the importance of names and we do a role play. I have a script and the kids role play. Another part of the script is renaming as role play. We are arming kids with how to respond when it happens to them. We are also showing the children how to say I’m sorry if we make a mistake when saying a name. This is a community building way to work through this and it emphasizes that we need to learn how to say people’s names. We have the capacity to do it.

 

(Dr. Bullock proceeded to run through several of the books that they have used within their summer camp curriculum).

 

We give the children a follow up activity to one of the books in our curriculum. We have them trace their hands and create their own skin color. You can do this at home with your kids. You can do this in a classroom setting. We allow the children to determine what their skin color is for themselves even if it’s way off. How do they seem themselves? Not how I see them or how their classmates see them, but how they see themselves.

 

Then they also name themselves. They come up with Peanut Butter, Chocolate Me, Indiana Jones, Malibu Beach. We are giving them ownership, “I get to name myself.” We do circle around the colors and the hand shades. We talk about, “What do you all notice? What do you all see?” They notice some are lighter, some are darker, we’re different.

 

Another key phrase that we use, “Does this contribute to a healthy community or unhealthy community?” Kids understand that language. We ask them, “Does it contribute to a healthy community that our shades are different? Or does it contribute to an unhealthy community?” They always say, “Healthy that we’re different.” Even if they were the same, it could still be a healthy community, but we just help them to understand that we have skin differences and it’s okay. Difference is beautiful. Difference is healthy. It’s fine being different.

 

We then use this to propel us into a conversation by day three. Now we want to talk about, “Yesterday, you all named and defined your own skin color. Today we’re going to talk about when other people define you based on your skin color.” That’s how we bring in racism. On that day, we do a bubble chart. We write the word racism and ask them to tell us what they know. “Have you seen this word before?” “What does it make you think about?”

 

We don’t recommend jumpin in here because then some kids may have no frame of reference for talking about that word. Some kids do. These are actual quotes from the kids written in the slide from the first year we did the camp. We have everything from racing to Harriet Tubman, people going into different bathrooms, separate water fountains. Kids were all over the place. We use this and we define the term for them. For this age group we define it in language they can understand. We define racism as, “When people use their thoughts, actions and behaviors to treat people unfairly based on the color of their skin. Of course, the adult definition is more complex.

 

Kids at young ages, they understand fair and unfair language so we try to incorporate that in there. “Treating people unfairly based on the color of their skin.” Now, of course racism can be more complex because sometimes you can bring in religion because some people’s religion becomes their race or their ethnicity. We just wanted to give them some kind of common term.

 

Then we use a book on that day that explicitly shows a character being mistreated because of the color of their skin. Now the kids can take this definition and apply it to an actual example.

 

By day four we actually talk about systemic racism with kids. Young kids can handle the idea of structural racism. Do you want to know why? It’s because they are in structures. They are in systems. School is a system. One of the books that we use is Ruby Bridges Goes to School written by Ruby Bridges. The images in this book are amazing; they come from the time period when Ruby Bridges was going to school. We help kids understand that racism is more than just treating people bad, it’s also in laws. It was a law that kids had to be segregated. Children understand this book because for one, Ruby Bridges is their age and when they look around they realize that they couldn’t be in the same classroom with their friends who are a different race. For little kids they say, “Why would they do that?” Racism doesn’t make sense to little kids. If you ever talk to them, they will not try to rationalize racism. They say, “No, who would do such a thing?” They are trying to grapple with it. Remember that this is an age appropriate way to do that.

 

We also talk about Black Lives Matter and the School To Prison Pipeline. I say these specifically because some people think that little kids can’t handle those conversations. You would be surprised that many of these kids are already having these conversations and you just don’t know about it. However, you want to be a part of shaping their understanding because you don’t know who’s educating them about this stuff.

 

By day five we are talking about activism. As kids learn this stuff, you will experience that they will be sad. As adults, we’ve been desensitized to what we’ve learned. When I watch kids learn things for the first time and see the hurt in their eyes, it’s hard! They care deeply that this has happened to people. We have to balance. I encourage you as parents that as you’re sharing things with kids, you’ve got to balance it, “Where’s the hope?” They need to see the hope so we share activism with them. We share video clips of young kids, who are their age as activists. You all can find someone on the internet. There’s quite a few. We empower the kids explaining that they all can be activists at 5, 7 and 10 years old. We show them examples of how to do it through books. By showing them examples of kids who are fighting back, who are being anti racist community members is very important because you want to give them an outlet that they can see.

Q & A

Participant:

My daughter just turned one. We’ve already tried to get this work started. One of the books she got for her birthday because she likes to dance is “I Want To Be Like Misty Copeland.” I want her to see that ballerina does not mean white it means ballerina.

 

What other types of things can we do, other than expose her to different kinds of media, in terms of people who don’t look like her to get her prepared for the sort of work that you are able to do with elementary school kids?

 

Dr. Bullock:

Thank you so much for sharing that. I like how you said, “I want to show her examples of ballerina’s so she understands ballerina means ballerina and it doesn’t mean white.” Any time you can disrupt or share multiple representations, particularly for young kids, that challenges who gets to be a ballerina and who doesn’t. The images matter and the books matter. I tell people to do an equity book audit of the books in your home library. You and your kids can do it together. Who do you see in the books? Are there people that you don’t see?

 

Now you have an understanding whether all the main characters are white, or white people & dogs, maybe just animals. You will be able to see the gaps.

 

Doing the same thing with your group of friends. Thinking about what your friend groups are like. Often I get parents who say that they would like their children to have diverse friends, be in community with people from whom they are different. I ask parents, “Are your friends diverse? Are you in authentic relationships with people with whom you are different?”

 

We are our children’s first models. If they don’t see us doing it then they may not do it. So, we need to think about how to build authentic relationships. I do not advocate showing up at a black and brown people’s churches trying to find a friend and I don’t advise inviting random folks to come eat at your dinner table but rather being in community. What do your schools look like? By and large white people will attend schools that are predominantly white and it’s harder to build those mixed race relationships if you’re in those isolated settings. What groups can you join? Think about where you live, how can you be more intentional about being in spaces that are mixed race. Thinking about how you can be more authentically involved in community. When your kids are doing dance, what kind of dance spaces have you signed up for? Is it all just one race there? When you’re doing Girl Scouts and other community programs, thinking about how you can get to know the folks there and build relationships with them because that’s important.

 

Think about how you can advocate in preschools and regular schools to make sure the teachers are exposing all of the kids to different types of curriculum where black, brown and marginalized communities are being represented.

 

Participant:

I live on the west coast. One of the things that I’ve been doing is talking to the educators at my son’s school. (He’s a little bit older than this group) Trying to help them because it’s predominantly white and they have an influx of Chinese students so some of these resources are very helpful around pronouncing names, I can imagine the Kindergarteners and 1st Graders dealing with that.

 

One thing that the Superintendent of the school continues to say, when another African American parent and I have our calls with him, he talks about what we are trying to do is race relations. I want to help him with new language about what we are trying to do with this school a lot, such as equity, anti bias training. I’m looking for an umbrella term of how we’re trying to transform the school. I think he has an aversion to using antiracism. Although I’m getting him the Antiracist baby board book to read.

 

I’d love to have some language around what this really represents for schools that really haven’t looked at it at all.

 

Dr. Bullock:

I push for using the Anti Racism framework. I will say that when we started doing this work back in 2014/2015, a lot of things that we have now experienced we had not experienced before. People were very afraid of our logo (an apple with a fist in it) and the word antiracist. People told me I should change the logo and change the name. I said that I absolutely will not. When I show up I’m going to represent those things and I’m not trying to trick people. When I come I’m going to talk about white supremacy and antiracism. I say this because I didn’t have the context of right now to support me. We all have the content of right now to support the work that we’re trying to do. 

 

What I’ve challenged people to do is ask, “How can we deny that we need antiracism work after all that we just experienced, particularly in watching officer Chauvin murder George Floyd, 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Breona Taylor, say her name. Ahmaud Arbery. Elijah McClain.” Did you all learn about Elijah? There are so many spaces who were not having these conversations who are now. We have to capitalize on this moment. Ask for everything. Advocate for all the things that you had been denied previously. It still sounds like we have some folks who are not budging but most folks are willing to have conversations they weren’t willing to have before. Most people are willing to attend a PD session that they weren’t willing to do before because when we see it in front of us, even though it’s been real the whole time not just with this current wave, but this time definitely feels different.

 

I will also offer organizing. Are there other people who believe what you believe who can now sign on and say, “I too want to push this forward.” I think that could help.

 

Participant:

Brilliant! Thank you so much because one of the things, speaking of George Floyd, that I said in the first meeting that we had with the Administration. I invoked something that was said at his service, “Imagine if George Floyd were white and all of those officers were black.” I then gave them several other examples of reversing the situation around and they realized that there is a difference. Thank you and I will keep the fight going.

 

Dr. Bullock:

Thank you and thank you for being here.

 

Participant:

I grew up looking like the majority but an immigrant with a foreign name and no one ever really tried to figure out my name. Of course, I have now turned around and given my children foreign names. They are perhaps easier than mine but they get mispronounced all the time. For people who I care about and who will be in their lives, I am particular about making sure that they are pronouncing them correctly. I know for me as a child, I was far too shy to ever bother correcting them. I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for how I can talk to my children about being braver to stand up when they get into those situations.

 

Dr. Bullock:

Sometimes I’m not even brave as an adult to advocate for myself, even as someone who does this work I’m apprehensive. Thank you for sharing that.

 

I recommend reading, “My Name Is Sangoel.” There’s another book that we will be using this year called, “Teach Me Your Name.” These are both on the book list provided. She goes through how the kids at school pick on her and rename her. She wants to change her name but then she talks to someone who said, “Be proud. Your family named you that and your name means ____.” She was given empowerment. She then goes and teaches the teacher and her classmates how to say her name.

 

For one, it validates that there is value in your name and your name matters. There’s nothing wrong with you, it’s the other people who are struggling. In the book the main character literally teaches everyone by going up to the board.

 

So, first sharing both of those books and having a conversation about it saying, “You know what? I think you can handle this too, let’s try it.” Then you both could role play it together. The more practice they get at it, the more confident they feel in being able to push back. Even though we’re the victim, we don’t want to hurt someone else’s feelings. I don’t want to embarrass the person who harmed me. Making sure to let them know that it’s okay, specifically if you show up with love, that they are just trying to teach them. Clarifying to the child that they are not a bad person for clarifying how to correctly say their name.

Before time runs out, Ndasia has a link that leads to a folder with resources. There is a list of resources that we use. You’ll also find a checklist for when you are trying to buy books on race and identity. All books are not created equally even if they are on a recommended reading list, you still need to go through a checklist to make sure it’s appropriate.

 

One of things I always like to point out is on that checklist of things, it asks “Does the race and ethnicity of the author align with the race and ethnicity of the characters?” That’s called a culturally authentic text and so if there is a mismatch, it’s not necessarily a bad thing every time however often when white people write about other communities, stereotypes may show up the day they’re depicted could be more stereotypical, so you just need to be cautious. Even on our recommended book list, we have some white authors who have written about people of color. We’ve read the books and vetted them. We really liked them and they are strong. We are trying to push ourselves even more to find black and brown authors writing from authentic experiences.

 

Also in the folder, there is a graphic that is very powerful. It shows they are not too young to talk about race and it links in research. These conversations matter. In as little as a week, we can disrupt some racial attitudes that kids might be having as it relates to people from whom they are different. That’s important for us to know as we are doing this work.

 

In my dissertation, I studied white children in particular and one of the things that came out of studying them was parent’s who had protested. The kids from 1st-5th grade shared stories about going to protests with their parents, and they could tell me in their own language what they were protesting. I like to tell parents that those conversations that you are having with your kids, and taking them to protests, they matter because they emerge as a theme in the data.

 

Dr. Bullock:

I just want to say thank you for being here and for inviting us.

 

Crissy:

We are grateful for you giving your time, joining us and providing this valuable information!

Dr. Ronda Taylor Bullock is originally from Goldston, NC. In 2018, she earned her doctorate at UNC Chapel Hill in the Policy, Leadership, and School Improvement Program. Her research interests are critical race theory, whiteness studies, white children’s racial identity construction, and anti-racism. Prior to entering her doctoral program, Dr. Taylor Bullock taught English for almost ten years at Hillside High School in Durham, NC, where she now resides. She is the co-founder and Executive Director of we are, which stands for working to extend anti-racist education. As a non-profit, we are provides anti-racism trainings for children, families, and educators. we are uses a three-pronged approach to dismantle systemic racism in education and beyond by offering summer camps for kids in rising 1st-5th grade, workshops for parents & families, and professional development for educators. Dr. Taylor Bullock is the wife of Dr. Daniel Kelvin Bullock and mother of son Zion and daughter Zaire.

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