The only way we will begin to get past the elephant-in-the-room issue about RACE, in the classroom, is to read Mitali Perkins’s, Straight Talk on Race: Challenging the Stereotypes in Kids’ Books.
Mitali Perkins’s article is the featured, cover story on School Library Journal magazine. Go, Mitali! It’s OH-SO-BOLD!
Mitali takes the issue of RACE and rips it right out of her own closet! She also addresses the need to "…spur the children’s book community to be more thoughtful and proactive about how and why we write, read, and talk about race."
"Our kitchen smelled of mustard-seed oil, turmeric, and cardamom. Bikinis? No way. A one-piece bathing suit felt too revealing (and still does). My mother never showed her legs in public, even when she eventually shelved her sarees in favor of jeans and long skirts. Dating? Fuhgeddaboudit. My parents’ marriage was arranged, and the clan expected the same for me."
Mitali also wrote a blog post, You’re A Bit Too Oversensitive, where she poses the questions, "So let me ask you — how young is too young to ask questions about racism while reading a story with kids? Have you ever done it? If so, when, why, and how?"
I do hope you will read the entire article [and comments], and also visit Mitali’s blog.
As for myself, a mother of two biracial children, I too, grapple with this issue. What do you say to other children when they say, "That’s your son? He looks so white?" Huh?
“In the black community, those who have more European features are put on pedestals,” says Davis. “People with straighter hair or lighter skin are often considered beautiful, while those with more African features are considered not beautiful.” It’s true within Asian cultures as well, where skin-bleaching cream is a best-selling beauty product and comments about the “fairness” of skin are flaunted in marriage ads." (Straight Talk on Race: Challenging the Stereotypes in Kids’ Books by Mitali Perkins)
Well, after attending a diversity conference yesterday, I realize that I have some of the answers and strategies. Tomorrow I will share more from the NYSAIS Diversity Conference.