We Won’t Be silent: Discrimination in the Classroom

DO-NOT-BE-SILENT-AGAINST DISCRIMINATION

Spirit week, field day, sunglasses day, twin day and more. Those are the activities my kids looked forward to as summer vacay approached. For our family, It was also two weeks of discussions on confidence, self-esteem, discrimination, and prejudice. Who would have thought that 10 days before school ended I’d have to have these conversations with our kids but also teach them NOT to be silent.

Little Lady is very chatty and I know she’s the kid to talk to when I need to know what is happening at school. She is observant, vocal, but also sensitive as any 1st grader would be.

She’s usually cheerful and excited to spill the beans about her day. We chat about her day on the way home from the school bus stop.

The day before this incident, she was excited about Spirit week and told me she was going to dress up as Twins with her friend. The next day she wasn’t very happy. She didn’t want to really chat and she was hurting. I could see it!

Little Lady- GUBlife

My conversation with little lady went a little something like this:

mom: How was school?

LL: OK

mom: What’s wrong?

LL: I can’t dress like my friend

mom: Why?

LL: Because I don’t look like her. I’m just gonna dress like my other friend cuz I look like her and we can be twins.

mom: Ok but you don’t have to look like someone to dress like them and be twins for the day. You can be a twin with whoever you want.

LL: NO! My friend said she didn’t want to because we don’t look alike. She is going to dress like the other friend. But Mom they don’t even look alike! They’re not even twins like that. She told me I should dress like our other friend cuz we look alike.

mom: What do you mean look alike?

LL: We have the same hair and skin color.

I didn’t want to jump to conclusions mid conversation but If I’m honest, my blood was boiling. Yet again, another incident where I have to discuss my girl’s hair or her skin color. I tried to reassure her but she felt down. Her little spirit was so broken and I couldn’t blame her. All she wanted to do was dress like her friend for the day like all the other kids who were making plans to be twins with their besties. I was feeling pretty down too. I wanted to believe this wasn’t a big deal but it was. It was a huge deal because my daughter was experiencing discrimination and I know she didn’t recognize it. It was so unfair.

I discussed it with the hubs and we both talked to her and Little Man. I learned that it’s so important to discuss things with our kids and if needed include school officials and their classmates in the conversation. I want my kids to know that these things are not ok, unfair, and just plain mean! I realized that as a parent I need to be my kids advocate until they can be their own. I choose to lead by example and so we will not be silent!

how to deal with

When it comes to discrimination, prejudice, and stereotyping parents should:

  • Have an open conversation with their kids about the situation and acknowledge the unfairness of the incident.
  • Help them understand what discrimination, prejudice and stereotypes are.
  • Encourage self-love, acceptance, and respect.
  • Be vocal. Don’t stay quiet but rather take action.

After discussing it with the kids. I told Little Lady that I was going to email her teacher. I let her teacher know exactly what had happened and I kindly asked if spirit week days particularly twin day were discussed in the class. I am fortunate to have open communication with my child’s teacher and happy she responds quickly. She was more than understanding with my concerns and let me know she’d speak to the class.  

be your childs advocate

The next day, Little Lady came home to tell us the teacher did discuss twin day first thing in the morning. Little Lady decided to wear green to match her friends and all felt right in our world. My kids know now that excluding someone for their skin color, hair type, or any other differences is not ok. I will continue to be my kids advocate for situations like these until they can learn to stand up for themselves and others.

My kids know now that excluding someone for their skin color, hair type, or any other differences is not ok. This won’t be the last time we discuss this issue but I’m happy knowing that once again my kids are understanding to stand up for themselves. I will continue to be my kids advocate for situations like these until they can learn to stand up for themselves and others.

prejudice is learned

I want to believe that her classmate’s comments weren’t thought thru and were simply little kid words. They are 1st graders after all. Maybe they just took twin day literally. I want to believe that spirit week activities are all for fun. I don’t like to have to attach a lesson to every school situation but this is life for us. And lastly, we have to accept that Prejudice is Learned Ya’ll! And when hateful things like that are learned, action will follow and it’s up to us to put a stop to it especially when situations like this happen with a group of 6-year-olds!

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