“Raising White Kids,” by Denver Public Schools grad, confronts thorny subject for students, parents: white privilege

DENVER, COLORADO - APRIL 15: A portrait of Allen Smith, Denver Public Schools chief of equity and leadership team, Sunday, April 15, 2018 outside Ellis Elementary School. (Photo by Daniel Brenner/Special to the Denver Post)

Parents of white children have an invisible luxury: They don’t need to start talking to their kids about the subject of race as young as preschool.

That’s a privilege not afforded black and Latino parents, many educators say, because their children’s lives and educations are literally at risk from the moment they enter society.

But even bringing up the issue causes problems, they have found. Meanwhile, incidents with racial overtones continue to dominate school-safety discussions, from the Parkland, Fla., high school shooting in February, to a Manual High School football game against a mostly white school last fall, during which students reported hearing racial slurs.

With more than half of its nearly 100,000 students minorities, Denver Public Schools is worried.

“It’s a hard conversation to have without context, or without helping people understand this is not about blaming, shaming or judging you,” said Allen Smith, chief of Denver Public Schools’ Culture, Equity and Leadership Team. Daniel Brenner, Special to the Denver PostDENVER, COLORADO – APRIL 15: A portrait of Allen Smith, Denver Public Schools chief of equity and leadership team, Sunday, April 15, 2018 outside Ellis Elementary School. (Photo by Daniel Brenner/Special to the Denver Post)

That’s why Jennifer Harvey, a professor of ethics and religion at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, has devoted herself to bridging the gap. A graduate of Denver Public Schools, from Park Hill’s Stedman Elementary to East High School, and a mother of two elementary school kids, she sees only peril in ignoring the subject.

An ordained member of American Baptist Churches, she wrote the 2014 book “Dear White Christians,” and now, “Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in a Racially Unjust America.”

“White privilege is a crisis for students,” Harvey said. “We’re telling them they are supposed to value equity and celebrate diversity. But we are not understanding that for them to do that, they also have to grow an anti-racist skill set. And it is complicated because they aren’t supposed to celebrate their whiteness. A few are going off in different ways and are ripe for the picking, like some of those who showed up in Charlottesville.”

Harvey came to Denver over the weekend, with the help of Park Hill Collective Impact and Park Hill Neighbors for Equity in Education, to give free, public lectures and workshops at Park Hill Library, Stedman Elementary, Montview Presbyterian Church and, on Monday, an 8 a.m. event at McNichols Civic

Source:: The Denver Post – Lifestyle

      

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