Is There a Brown History Month?

When my eldest discovered that this month is Black History Month her first question was “Is there a Brown History Month?”

My initial response was a mental, “Ummm.”

I then said, “I don’t know. I’m sure there are months set aside to recognize the histories of other racial populations, but I’m not sure when they are.”

“Is there a Chinese History Month or Mexican History Month, because I am Chinese and Mexican and I think there should be a month for us?” She proclaimed.

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It’s More Than Junk Mail…

Every year around the holidays we receive a gift catalog providing us with an opportunity to buy a farm animal for families living in Africa. I have tacitly accepted it as a harmless piece of junk mail. The catalog typically sits in our pile of junk mail. But, after my older daughter commented on it, I was forced to give it some attention.

“Dad, can we buy an animal for a family in Africa. The animals are for families in Africa who don’t have their rights met. They need our help. Come, look,” she said. Continue reading

Because There Aren’t Enough Black Fairies

IMG_0301 (1)Until today, my posts have been about experiences with my older daughter.  This is the first post specifically about my younger daughter.  For years she has been by our side while I talk with my older daughter, but this is the first time the conversation was just the two of us.  It may have helped that her older sister was gone for the morning.

My younger daughter celebrated her fifth birthday last weekend.  One of her gifts was a small white plaster fairy.  The gift came with paints and a paintbrush with instructions for personalizing the fairy.  The illustration on the box was a fairy with fair skin, very similar to her skin tone.  After setting up the fairy and paint on top of a paper bag with a cup of water I walked to the sink to wash dishes.

After five minutes I returned to her side to observe the progress of her masterpiece.  I immediately noticed that the porcelain white arms of the fairy’s arms, legs and face had been painted black, the dress was blue and the mushrooms surrounding the fairy were a variety of colors with spots.  Continue reading

Were European Colonialists and Native American People Friends?

pocahontas_668_330_80_int_s_c1This morning my daughter asked, seemingly out of nowhere and initially rhetorically, “Why weren’t the Native American people and Europeans friends?”

“Why do you think they weren’t friends,” I asked.

“Well, I think they were friends, but not all of them.”

I drove in silence, unsure of what to say. I thought about my knowledge of the trail of tears, Indian boarding schools, the Indian Appropriation Act and a few personal stories shared with me when I worked with families living on the Pasqua Yaqui Reservation in Tucson, Arizona. Everything was part of the tragedies and acts of violence inflicted upon indigenous populations by White people on “Turtle Island,” which is what many native people call North America. I was also aware of a few historical accounts of relatively positive relationships between native people and colonialists…however those often relied on native people becoming Christian and “civilized.”

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What Political Correctness Means to Early Educators

Recently, students in my Introduction to Early Childhood Education course and I were discussing the topic of communication in early childhood programs.  I began the class by showing the students the picture below.  I asked them, “What thoughts come to mind when you look at this picture?”

Skilled Dialogue

Samantha, a White woman in her 30s said, “I feel like the  spoken language is just people trying to be politically correct with their words.  Everyone is so concerned about saying the right thing and not hurting anyone’s feelings and no one can really tell the truth…what’s really on their mind.”

Politically correct…can you tell us more about what you mean by that?” I asked.

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Discussing the Roots of the Suspension and Expulsion of Young Black Boys

CaptureSuspension and expulsion in early childhood education is troubling.  Most troubling is the fact that, while Black boys account for less than 20% of the students enrolled in programs, they account for more than 50% of the children suspended and expelled.  This is only the beginning of the issue.

The questions I like to ask in my classes and trainings are “Why…?”  In this case, why would any early childhood professional feel it is appropriate to suspend or expel young children from an early childhood program?  Why are Black boys disproportionately overrepresented?  Why is the disproportionality a national trend?  The short answer…that only leads to more “why” questions is implicit bias against Black boys.

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Why Do They Want to Build a Wall? Listen, and Speak Up!

First in a three part blog series on social justice by Dr. Andrew Goff…because #OurKidsAreListening.

Last January, my six-year-old daughter Addi and I were driving home from the grocery store when I encountered a new phase of my life as a father. I was busy thinking about dinner with public radio quietly playing in the background. Suddenly, she asked, “Why would they want to build a wall? Will we still be able to see Vito (great grandfather in Juarez, Mexico)?”

Pause five seconds…boarder? Wait, what?…I didn’t turn off the radio when the news came on!…deep breath in… “That’s a very good question sweetie, let’s talk about that as soon as we get home.”

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Why Do the Football Players Take a Knee?

Taking a kneeOn our way to school this morning my six-year-old asked me about taking a knee during the national anthem. Like all of our other conversation about SJ and E, it was amazing! This is the first have chosen to share, because they are always very personal and I do not want anyone to think that I believe I have the right answers. However, this particular conversation was is one I feel people need to think about long and hard. Continue reading