Text: Children, Race and Racism: How Race Awareness Develops

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From Children, Race and Racism: How Race Awareness Develops
By Louise Derman-Sparks, Carol Tanaka Higa, Bill Sparks

Adults are generally extremely uncomfortable when children comment
or ask directly about race and racism. They feel embarrassment, anxiety,
anger, sadness, and confusion about what to say. As one educator and
activist states: “One thing adults do – white, brown, Black, red and yellow –
is to lie to children about racism.” Delaying tactics are also used.
Sometimes this is done to protect children, but in most cases, adults are
trying to protect themselves as well. Therefore, a significant factor in
encouraging children’s anti-racist development is to face one’s own feelings,
knowledge and behavior. A statement by James Baldwin is pertinent here:
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed
until it is faced.” In addition, we cannot explain racial identity and racism to
children unless we know something about both areas.

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