Beloved Community: Anti-Bias Education

Beloved Community: Anti-Bias Education for Children & Youth at USNF 

aaron burden 1zR3WNSTnvY unsplash“Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world...We deepen those bondings by connecting them with an anti-racist struggle.” -bell hooks

As an educator, it is my inclination to emphasize all the ways that we are similar and get along; as hooks says, I want to minimize difference. Yet, the rest of the world seems to be rapidly dividing into incompatible silos. While I still want our kids to connect meaningfully with each other, I also want them to know what to do when connections breaks down -- either interpersonally or because of systems of oppression and inequity.  How do we teach children the skills to learn to work together across difference and interrupt injustice in themselves and their communities? 

Bit by bit, in our religious education program, we are trying to raise children that are proud of their identities and who can also celebrate and appreciate diversity. As we progress through this year with a focus on anti-bias education, we hope to give kids the tools to talk about race, class, privilege, bias, and discrimination and to feel empowered to take a stand against bias and injustice. These goals build on each other and will guide the RE program this year (and every year, for that matter): 

Goals of Anti-Bias Education 

  1. Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family-pride, and positive social identities
  2. Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity; accurate language for human differences; and deep, caring human connections
  3. Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and that, and increasingly how, unfairness hurts
  4. Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discrimination