Diversity Committee Guest Speaker: Children Are Not Colorblind

Guest Speaker Ama Codjoe – Topic: Children Are Not Colorblind

Ama explained that parents often state “My children are colorblind.” She asked the group what they thought the danger of this statement is, then explained that children miss out on struggles of others, empathy and activism. Part of our jobs as humans is social change. Parents in the group pointed out that the danger is also that children don’t appreciate the differences or nuances and may miss out on culture. And or they may choose to go to what is familiar – kids go to what they know. Ama explained that by age 9, racial attitudes are formed.  We need to be proactive about cultivation. She also stated that defining yourself is up to the individual, but how someone sees you is different. There is a system that is beyond self.  It is important to name it so kids don’t feel blame and guilt.

Ama then asked the group to think about when the last time they had had a discussion about race was.

The group then participated in role playing scenarios and discussed the interactions and communication that resulted. Ama recommended further resources on the topic:

The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond: http://www.pisab.org (I think this is what she recommended, but am confirming)

Border Crossers – trains and equips educators to be leaders of racial justice  http://www.bordercrossers.org

Here is Ama Codjoe’s handout, with further reading and resources, from her workshop after the general PA meeting on Oct. 22.

Role Play East Village Community School / Facilitator: Ama Codjoe (ama_codjoe@hotmail.com)

Recommendations: adapted from Border Crossers


Affirm the child
Continue the conversation
Apply a racial equity lens


Educate yourself (see reading list below!)
Dialogue with other parents about race, the impact of systemic racism, and parenting
Analyze school structures through a racial equity lens (how is your school a partner in “undoing racism”?)
Partner with others, build alliances
Be proactive

Further reading:

  • Courageous Conversations About Race: A Field Guide for Achieving Equity in Schools, Glenn Singleton and Curtis Linton
  • Everyday Antiracism, edited by Mica Pollock
  • Other People’s Children, Lisa Delpit
  • Multiplication Is for White People, Lisa Delpit
  • Anti-Bias Education for Young People and Ourselves, Louise Derman-Sparks & Julie Olsen Edwards https://www.naeyc.org/store/files/store/TOC/254.pdf
  • Can We Talk About Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation, Beverly Daniel Tatum
  • Another Kind of Public Education: Race, Schools, the Media, and Democratic Possibilities, Patricia Hill Collins
  • When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold Story of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America, Ira Katznelson
  • Beyond the Whiteness of Whiteness: Memoir of a White Mother with Black Sons, Jane Lazarre
  • Deculturalization and the Struggle for Equality, Joel Spring
  • Educating Teachers for Diversity: Seeing With a Cultural Eye, Jacqueline Jordan Irvine


Scenario 1

Your white son Christopher is having a play date with a child from his school. You overhear Christopher say to Luis, a Puerto Rican boy, that he will play the good guy and Luis has to play the bad guy. When Luis asks why, Christopher says, “Because you’re black.”


Scenario 2

You attend an open house for your child’s school and on display are self-portraits. As you observe the portraits, you realize that your child, an African-American girl, has drawn herself as a blonde girl with blue eyes.


Role-play solutions.

What do you do (short-term and long-term)?


Get feedback.

Feedback Questions (from Border Crossers):
What worked? How do you know?
Was race directly addressed? If so, how?
What suggestions do you have for improvement?