This winter, participants in the Creativity Club (ages 10-14) are exploring the issue of racial justice.  Our goal is to increase our understanding of issues of racism deeply embedded in our society and what we can do to heal. For our white middle schoolers and families, this unit is about getting a glimpse of the meaning of racism and about raising awareness of the layers of privilege that surround them. For our middle schoolers and families of color, it is about developing an understanding of their identities and how those identities impact them in the world. For all, it is a time to move toward finding hope and wholeness in our world.

 

Our first lesson was about identity.  We considered our own identities, then watched this video from Being 12, People Sometimes Think I’m Supposed to Talk Ghetto, Whatever That Is., in which young people answer the question “who am I?”

We then heard a story about a middle school girl, Marley Dias, who wanted the books she read in school to not always be about white boys and dogs.  Marley started a project to gather donations of books for her school library with characters who were black girls, like her.  We talked about the importance of representation, and why people need to see themselves as well as a variety of other people reflected in the books they read.  (You can learn more about Marley’s story here)

  • When have you felt or seen someone being treated differently because of what people might think of them before they even know them?
  • How does it feel (how do you think it feels) to be stereotyped?
  • Why is it important to read about how people’s identities are similar and different from our own?

The following Sunday, we presented the story of Marley to the younger children at our Lighthouse Chapel worship service.  We worked with the children to examine the books in our Lighthouse library, looking to see which groups of people are well-represented in our books, and which are not.  We discovered we do not have near as many books with children of color as characters as white children, and that we also lack books with transgender characters, elders, and people with disabilities.

At our second class session, we further explored identity and stereotypes.  We watched the video “The Danger of a Single Story” and discussed the concept of “white privilege”.  We began playing the Road to Racial Justice board game.

  • How do you know about your heritage?
  • Why do you suppose that black people are referred to as African American, not Nigerian American or Ghanaian American?
  • What does this show about our culture?

Our next session will be about the importance of listening in developing cross-cultural understanding.  Check back for more updates about what we are learning, and join us March 18 at noon as we present a workshop highlighting what we’ve learned.