To the editor:
In response to Ms. Kathy Meyer’s letter Dec. 10, the Lindbergh Equity and Diversity (LEAD) Coalition, a diverse group of community members, parents and teachers dedicated to anti-racism efforts in our community, would like to counter this opinion.
Ms. Meyer states that teaching racism to young children is “divisive and harmful.” We would like to point out that all evidence on racism, empathy and child development states the opposite, and that an education system that intentionally addresses inequities is the only way to solve the problem of racism in our country.
Thanks to We Stories, a local organization that seeks to change the conversation about racial equity in St. Louis (http://www.westories.org/what-we-know), we know that by age 3, children make distinctions based on race. By age 5 children see race as a major point of difference, even when not discussed.
When we don’t talk about racial differences, kids make assumptions based on the messages they receive around them. Even when they’re told that people are all the same, white kids continue to demonstrate stronger racial biases than children of other groups (Schutts & Olsen, 2011).
While we agree that people should be judged by their character rather than skin color (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.), unfortunately we know that is not the reality of the world we live in (yet). Teaching about our country’s discriminative history is the most effective technique for decreasing bias (Hughes, Bigler & Levy, 2007).
We know that changing the narrative about how we talk about race will lessen the likelihood of judgement based solely on skin color. Furthermore, anti-biased, anti-racist, multicultural education is the only way forward to respect, dignity, safety, peace, and harmony in our district.
LEAD (Lindbergh Equity and Diversity)