*This post was published by the Huffington Post. You can find it HERE.*
Many educators think that having a friend of a different race bans them from having a discriminatory or racist bone in their bodies.
That my friends is not enough,and does not shield you from your own personal biases. Here is a helpful guide for meeting the needs of biracial kids in your school:
As educators, we are in the unique position to break the chains of discrimination within the boundaries of our classrooms. We can work with our parents, community members and administrators to bring diversity to our schools on a regular basis (morning/afternoon announcements, holiday parties, programs, faculty meetings, seasonal events, PTA/PTO meetings, yearbook planning, etc)
Be Cognizant of the Fact that Representation Matters.
If you have posters in your room, try to find pictures of children of different races.
Add multicultural books to your classroom collection that are diverse in nature. Biracial kids need to see themselves in your classroom as well.
There are many books available depicting multiracial families.
Don’t Play Classroom Games that Focus on Physical Features
Growing up, I was one of the few black girls in my church after several black families moved away (military life). In our Wednesday night class, we were asked to bring baby pictures for an activity. When we arrived, our pictures were placed on a bulletin board & numbered. Our task was to guess whose picture belonged to whom.
Unfortunately, I was the only black girl, so everyone got the free space on the proverbial BINGO card.
Before this moment, no one ever made me feel like the odd one out for being the only black girl. I’m sure that wasn’t my teacher’s intention, but that day I felt all alone. I almost felt sick to my stomach and wondered if everyone was whispering about me.
I won the game, but it felt like I’d lost.
Allow Your Students to Define Their Own Identity
If you are unsure of your student’s racial identity, don’t pick it for them. If a student “looks white” and they have marked biracial/multiracial, please don’t ask them if they are sure.
Biracial kids & their families must choose their own identity, not have the school choose it for them.
Identify Areas of Personal Bias With Biracial Kids or Other Minorities
I’ve had to do this many times, especially this year. One parent came in to talk with me recently about some issues she’s had with her child and a fellow classmate. The parent asked her child why they were not allowed to communicate with the classmate.
The child replied, “because they are black.” I’m sure when they had these conversations at home, the mom never imagined that the daughter would utter those words in front of her black counselor. It just makes me wonder how she feels about other black students and the ramifications her biases have on them.
This is important because we must recognize when our personal biases are interfering with our job as educators.
Understand the Developmental Needs of All Children
Don’t worry, I won’t take you back to a psychology class, but it’s important to recognize that ALL children, regardless of whether they are biracial or mono-racial, will go through similar developmental stages.
One of my favorites psychologists, Jean Piaget believed that children are like “little scientists” and that they actively try to explore and make sense of the world around them.
Culture May Affect What is Considered “Normal” or “All-American”
Keep in mind that when conferencing with parents, there are culturally diverse methods of communicating, parenting and discipline. It’s important to know when our own cultural experiences are influencing our decision-making about what is deemed as appropriate.
As an educator and a parent of biracial kids, doing these things helps me to be sensitive to the needs of my students and families.
Is there anything you would add to the list about how to meet the needs of biracial kids?
Was this helpful to you? Then share this with other educators. I’d love to hear from you! Comment below.