We have a great responsibility as educators: to our children, their families and our colleagues. And beyond that, to our communities, and to society. The role of the early years professional, and of school staff, is far reaching.
But to meet this responsibility, we need to reflect on our beliefs, thoughts and biases, to recognise that each of us is influenced by our surroundings and our own experiences. To ask questions about a society that is structured by and for white privilege. And to understand how this translates into our interactions with children, families and colleagues.
We need to learn how to become anti-racist. We need to understand what it means to be an ally. It is not up to me to call myself an ally. But it is up to me to show up now, in every way that I can. To listen, to think, to acknowledge mistakes, and to recognise that the impact of what I do prioritises the intention.
We need to do the work.
Here at Tapestry and the FSF we are at the very beginning of our anti-racist journey. We are learning, we will always be learning. This isn’t a journey with a destination where we can get off and say ‘we’re here’.
Perhaps you are also at the beginning of reflecting on anti-racism or wondering how to start doing the work. Everyone is different and will have their own pathway to take. If you are reflecting as an individual rather than in a team, can you link up with someone to have conversations with?
Here is what we have been doing in our education team:
We began by making time. We set aside a regular time each week to discuss anti-racism together. But we also look beyond that weekly discussion time into the work that we do every day. We are working towards anti-racism becoming embedded in everything that we do.
We base each discussion on something we listened to, watched, read, or looked at: a podcast, a book, an infographic, a TV programme, an article, a poem, a video of a talk.
We take it in turns to suggest things and to start off the discussions. If we are reading a book, we might take a chapter each and keep going with it for a few weeks.
We have discovered the value of having honest conversations about race. This requires trust in our team members. We have found we are gradually building our racial literacy, becoming more confident to find the words to talk honestly.
Starting is the most important thing. And then keep going, keep reflecting and looking at how the work you are doing is unfolding in your provision, for children and with families and colleagues.
Here are some things we have focussed discussions on ourselves:
TED Talk – Not all superheroes wear capes, by Nova Reid
Book - This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell
Infographic – Becoming an Anti-racist
Podcast - Dr Muna Abdi’s podcast Becoming an Antiracist
Poem - If I were a Racist by Nate Holder
Article – Got Privilege? By Lori Lakin Hutcherson
On 25th March, Tapestry are holding an online event, the Tapestry Education Conference: Reflecting on Anti-racism in the Early Years. Places for this event filled up within hours of registration opening, and registration is now closed. However, a recording of the event will be made available afterwards. You can find out more about the conference here.
Edited by Jules