One kindergarten teacher’s video explains racism to her young students has gone viral as she breaks down the subject for her young students in a gentle but impactful way.
A kindergarten teacher from Brooklyn, New York, Very Ahiyya like many other educators in America, has been teaching her students via Zoom during coronavirus school closures.
And amid ongoing protests denouncing systemic racism that has gone on for far too long coupled with police brutality happening across the nation, Ahiyya sat down to read a children’s book she felt was very important right now: Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester.
“I wanted to talk to you today about all of the things that are going on right now. You may have noticed or heard your family talk about what’s happening in the news, beyond just the COVID virus, which is spreading,” Ahiyya begins her video. “We are also combatting a different kind of disease.”
The disease being racism.
Ahiyya shares with her students how racism is “something that happens with the way that people think and some people have the belief that people with black or brown skin should not have the same rights or privileges as people with white skin.”
Ahiyya then tells her students it’s our job to call out racism when we see it. “If you see someone being treated differently because of the color of their skin, you have the voice, you make the choice, to say ‘This is wrong,'” she says. “If you see someone being treated differently because of the color of their skin, you have a choice: You can decide to say something or walk away. But your choice can impact the lives of a lot of people.”
And in regards to the Black Lives Matter protests kids have more than likely seen on the news, Ahiyya goes on to explain how right now “a lot of people are making the choice to say, ‘That’s wrong. Racism is wrong.'”
“And they are talking specifically about racism towards Black people. Black people typically have skin color similar to mine,” she says, holding up her hand. “Black people have been in the United States for a very long time. Black people have been fighting against racism for a very long time.”
Ahiyya reminds her students before beginning to read Let’s Talk About Race to find the power of using their own voice and reminds them that if they are “even as little as 3 years old, you have a voice.” “You know what’s right,” she says. “And you know what’s wrong. And you can use your voice.'”
The teacher then posted to Instagram on why she decided to make this video for her students, urging others to share it as it could be utilized as a resource for non-Black children to learn more about “what racism is and how it’s impacted the lives of Black and Brown people.” Ahiyya also encouraged “young people to think about what actions they can take to use their voice to speak out against injustices.”
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.