Welcome to the Teaching Tolerance blog, a place where educators who care about diversity, equity and justice can find news, suggestions, conversation and support.
When my daughter was three, she showed up at preschool without her normal braids or twists, her glorious afro present for all to see and celebrate. Her little peers didn’t respond kindly though; they chimed in instead — quite loudly — with criticism: “What’s wrong with Zoe’s hair?”
The beginning of the school year is always filled with excitement, but this year our school initiated a project that is still taking on a life of its own.
A couple of nights ago, I took my daughter to Chuck-E-Cheese, a tradition of ours when her other mother is out of town. We play skee-ball to win long rows of tickets that we later exchange for plastic toys and stickers. We play — it’s our way of lessening how much we miss the Mom who’s not with us.
This particular evening something besides the blinking lights of games caught my eye, though.
During the fourth week of school, the form came home, stuffed into my daughter’s backpack:
Your student scored a XX on his/her DIBELS literacy test, administered this Fall/Summer. Based on this score, your child will be placed in Open Court Level XYZ [with] TEACHER A...
I teach classes on children’s literature at a university in California. I always say that, although I’ve been teaching now for 30 years, what I really want to be when I grow up is a children’s author. It’s a genre that we teachers love and spend a great deal of time specializing in because we want to thrill our students with a passion for reading so that they too will become lifelong readers. Students love this class for that very reason. That is, until I get to the topic of contemporary children’s books that have non-normative gender roles as a subject.
“Is that for a boy or a girl?”
This is the question posed to thousands of parents and guardians as they sweep through drive-throughs each day, seeking some quick eats for their children.
“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” These few words, spoken casually by Sonia Sotomayor at the annual Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture at UC-Berkeley in 2001, came back to haunt President Barack Obama’s nominee for the United States Supreme Court during the spring and summer of 2009. Hard to believe that this brief statement could cause such anguish, particularly among the conservative white senators who form part of the Senate Judiciary Committee, yet they led to days of arrogant grilling by the Senators and weeks of newspaper articles and commentary by television pundits speculating on what Sotomayor meant, whether it would hurt her confirmation, and what it would signal for the new court.
When I reflect on the incidents last week involving students who wore offensive shirts with anti-Muslim statements on them in Gainesville, Florida, I cannot help but to think of Jonathan Swift’s quote, “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” I don’t agree with Swift, though. All we have to do is observe how no local company in Gainesville, Florida would agree to print the T-shirts.