Raising Race Conscious Children

What if all parents, teachers, and caregivers used pro-active "race conscious" language to help young children work towards racial justice?

Photo of Sachi Feris
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Founding Story: Share a story about a key experience or spark that helps the network understand why this project got started or a story about how you became inspired about the potential for this project to succeed.

As teachers, we created and facilitated curriculum that prompted conversations about issues of race, equity, and justice. As parents, we realized that one has to a "choice" to be race conscious and diverge from our nation's legacy of color-blindness. Research widely supports race conscious language as a way to help children challenge racism--but few models of what this language sounded like on a daily basis existed. Thus Raising Race Conscious Children's workshops and blog community was born.

Which categories describe you? (the answer will not be public)

  • Self-identify race, ethnicity, or origin

If you chose to self-identify your race, ethnicity, or origin, please share here: (the answer will not be public)

Sachi Feris identifies as White/Jewish.
Lori Taliaferro Riddick identifies as Black/biracial.

Website

www.raceconscious.org

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [State]

  • New York

Location: Where is your organization headquartered? [City]

Brooklyn

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [State]

  • New York

Location: Where is your project primarily creating impact? [City]

New York City, NY and tri-state area as primary location--but through our webinar-based workshops and blog, we are working all across the country with a majority of participants on the East coast (NY, MA, DC, PA, ME) or the West Coast (CA, OR, WA).

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

While the goal of color blindness may be well intentioned (that race shouldn’t matter), the reality (from Michael Brown to Jasmine Richards) is that race does matter. If we commit to shifting the way we talk about race with young children, by being pro-actively and explicitly "race conscious," we can empower them to actively challenge racism each and every day.

We are trying to change the way we talk to young children about race--from a "color blind" framework to a "race conscious" framework. By shifting the language we use to talk about race with young children, we self-empower them to have healthy racial identities as individuals --as well as empower them to become agents of change and work towards racial and economic justice throughout their lives.

Is your model focused on any of the following traditionally underserved communities?

  • Communities of color
  • Other

Does your model work within any of the following sectors?

  • Childcare
  • Education

Year Founded

2014

Project Stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Example: Walk the network through a specific example of what happens when a person or group engages with your solution.

In Raising Race Conscious Children’s workshops, it has been overwhelming how common it is for participants to comments that it felt “strange” or “awkward,” at first, to explicitly name race during our practice prompts—and almost simultaneously, how practicing this skill made them aware that this was something they could be, and should be, doing with their children.

The shift in becoming race conscious is about changing the way we think and speak about race--and our workshops tell us that adults can “try on” this skill and commit to practicing it…in an hour and a half.

Furthermore, our blog has similarly provided models for talking about race that readers have used to inform their own practice with the children in their lives.

Impact: What was the impact of your work last year? Please also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

In the last year, we have conducted over a dozen workshops for over 500 participants. Again, based on informal evaluation (that is part of our workshop curriculum) indicates participants' ability to successfully use "race conscious" practice after only an hour+ of "practice."

In addition, we have built a blog that has published 100 posts, drawing on a community of almost 40 guest bloggers. The blog has had an average of almost 10,000 unique visitors per month over the six past months, with over 300 individuals subscribed directly to our publication list, and almost 4,500 "likes" on Facebook.

Organization Type

  • for-profit

Annual Budget

  • $10k - $50k

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is your solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

We are building a base of fee-for-service workshops whose revenue's will both support the continuance of our blog as the basis of our work--building a community of "race conscious" voices--well as ensure that we can offer our workshop at sliding scale fees so that cost does not prohibit participation.

Unique Value Proposition: How else is this problem being addressed? Are there other organizations working in the same field, and how does your project differ from these other approaches?

Many of the incredible educational organizations that work towards racial justice are driven by curriculum--but parents do not follow a "curriculum" and to build a truly "race conscious" framework, "race conscious" language needs to become commonplace. While research strongly supports race consciousness as a means to decreasing prejudice and building positive attitudes towards those different from one's self, few concrete models exist that provide models for how this can look and sound. This is why Raising Race Conscious Children advocates for proactive, race conscious language.

Reflect on the Field and its Future: Stepping outside of your project, what do you see as the most important or promising shifts that can advance children’s wellbeing?

In line with our "race conscious" concept, we believe that any project that places children at the center of their learning can powerfully transform a child's ability to be a lifelong advocate for themselves and others. Whether through "real world" learning, teaching social emotional intelligence, or building positive self esteem and independence, we believe in educational models that challenge young people as critical thinkers and agents of change.

Source: How did you hear about the Children’s Wellbeing Challenge? (the answer will not be public)

  • Facebook

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Photo of Doug Gould
Team

Improving racial awareness and empathy is always a great idea. It would be interesting to see more details on how your program relates to the challenge of building sense of self, purpose, and belonging. Best of luck with your program.

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