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Stephanie Benoit-Terrazas

I was an early childhood educator for 7 years. I am extremely passionate about global access to high-quality education. I have been working in the education space for a decade. I have a CDA, Bachelor of Arts in History, and another in Political Science. I have a Master's Degree in Communications and Media Studies.

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Talking About Race in Pre-K

August 8, 2021
Stephanie Benoit-Terrazas

This week, I had an interesting experience with the children in my class. They have been vocalizing how different people can have different skin colors. They on more than one occasion have said “ My skin is white and your skin is brown ( or black)” . I would always settle into how we are the same. I’d talk about my two eyes and their two eyes. My ten fingers and toes and theirs. I’d focus on the things we had in common. This week was a little different. The topic came up as an observation again, but this time a student followed that up with “ Black people come from slaves”.

My head was spinning

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I quickly replied, “not quite my love”. and moved morning meeting along. I was so stressed. Here it was. The beginning of the anti-racism conversation. It happened so naturally, So easily. Here we were. I fumbled the ball like the falcons when they were up 24 points. I wondered if there was any coming back from this.

I decided to talk to my boss about the exchange and get a bit of guidance on what was the next step. I think I wanted a bit of reassurance that I wouldn’t lose my job if I pursued this path.

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I dived into anti-racist teaching head first. We were going to start by getting all the beliefs, thoughts and feelings out on the table.  I grabbed a marker and the HUGE flip chart paper and I wrote “ BLACK PEOPLE”. I then divided the paper in half as they looked on. I then wrote, “ What we think we know”.  On the other side I wrote “ What we want to learn”. It started off a little shaky. Some children weren’t interested, some were making jokes,, but eventually, all of them were participating.

With each new line, the children bagan making their own connections. There were children that were enslaved. The Jewish people used to be enslaved as well.  As we talked I made sure to differentiate condition from person. When they said “ slaves” I would say “enslaved people” in order to help them remember that ultimately, we were talking about people. I learned a lot about my students, their capacity for empathy and just how curious they are.

The next step is to introduce books and to slowly move through the list of things they want to learn more about. I’m excited to embark on this journey with them. I look forward to learning from them and with them as we unlearn racism and bias and learn radical love.

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