Things have been busy in my classroom. One reason is that my 7th graders were doing their final projects.
Thanks to the folks at NewsOne for picking up the story and sharing my kid’s voices:
Isabella and Nokiya -- both 12 -- and 13-year-old Tia centered their podcast around a Tumblr video that specifically discussed media bias during the Ferguson protests, noting one occasion in which the Black protesters were called "animals" in order to justify the police brutality against them. In another video, Whites were referred to as "young," and "just kids," as they were shown vandalizing cars and starting fires. "Racism just isn't in the media. It's in everything," one of the girls said during the podcast. Another made a swift critique on appropriation saying, "They'll think it's OK to use your culture and make fun of it, even though it's not something you should be doing."
I showed the girls the article this morning and they couldn’t stop giggling.
The article touches on something at the end that I think is essential: we need to be having these conversations in our classroom. As I noted in the interview, the podcast isn’t perfect. Nothing is.
And that’s great (in the classroom). We are all going to make mistakes when we have difficult conversations. This goes for students and teachers alike. Often, the issue is when we, as educators, shy away from these issues with our students out of fear we will make mistakes. We cannot deny our student the skills and space to have safe conversations about race simply because we’re scared.
If I learned anything from this experience, it’s that I cannot run away from the important conversations, even with younger students. They are not only ready for them, but they are more than capable of important, nuanced thought. Knowing that they can handle these issues this young is a joyous and hopeful thing.
The opinions expressed in The Intersection: Culture and Race in Schools are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.