Author: Natalya Gibbs
Academic Year: 2013-14
Description: “She’s going to be the ghost because she’s White.”
“I have a brown brain and she has a white brain.”
“We’re brother and sister because our skin is the same.”
“I don’t want the new student to be the same color as me.”
“Well, I can’t play with that doll because our skin doesn’t match.”
(Above comments heard in a preschool classroom with 3-4 year children, December 2013)
All of these quotes are examples from my own practice that show how young children are beginning to make sense of race. Although early childhood educators often believe children are incapable of taking another’s perspective and thus, cannot discuss complex topics like race and racism, research suggests that children as young as preschool have articulate ideas about the power inequities associated with race and racism in society and they use these ideas to influence their interactions with peers (Ausdale and Feagin 2001; MacNaughton and Davis 2009).
My study is designed as a critical social action research project where I will observe how my students are bringing their understandings of race and racism into the classroom and use these observations to inform a series of lesson plans that are inspired by the foundations and theorizing of anti- racist curriculum. The goal of my study is to strengthen my understanding of how I can become a caring and effective social justice educator capable of creating a classroom where all of my students are supported to construct positive and equitable beliefs about race while also knowing how to interrupt instances of injustice as they emerge.