By Nikki Nuno
Educators, scholars, and philosophers have been searching for the origin of racism since its existence. Why does it still exist in today’s world, and why is it so uncomfortable for teachers to talk about it with their students? Dr. Beverly Tatum, psychologist, administrator and educator, has brought light to the heavy issue teachers have to come across every semester, especially for elementary teachers: explaining a past of racism and oppression while still leaving hope of change. She shares accounts of her and her peers during their attempt of teaching race to kids who are net yet aware of the issue of race.
The educator acknowledges the unease both teachers and students endure when the topic of targeted oppression comes up in class. She used the experience of her elementary teacher friend who couldn’t look her students in the eyes when she talked about black men being lynched and black churches being burned during prayer. But, Dr. Beverly Tatum claims race doesn’t have to be such an uncomfortable topic. There are alternative routes to ease children in to the dark past of our country, while still leaving them with a sense of positivity in humans now. She said one of her favorite ways to expose children to race history is Faith Ringgold’s “Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky.” Through the book, she ties in the ideas of white people being portrayed as enemies and allies, both crucial traits to share with all children, regardless if it immediately affected their race or not. Dr. Beverly Tatum knows we can’t get of racism entirely, but we can make a huge reduction of it through teaching young minds the truth before they are exposed to the categories of color.