Ben Zeisloft, Campus Reform
A federal government child education program hosted a group of professors to discuss “anti-racism.”
Head Start, a program of the Department of Health and Human Services, “Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center” produced a webinar series entitled “Advancing Racial and Ethnic Equity” in the fall of 2020. The lectures’ goal was to promote “anti-bias and anti-racism strategies Head Start and Early Head Start programs can use in their practices, services, and systems.”
Over 3,000 Head Start staff members registered for the lectures, according to a transcript of the event.
Among other guest speakers were Emory University public health professor Camara Jones, University of North Carolina assistant diversity director Jenille Morgan, and California State University-Long Beach child development professor Treshawn Anderson.
Morgan and Anderson’s presentation discussed ways in which educators could promote “racial equity in early childhood systems.” Employees were encouraged to apply a “racial equity/economic justice lens” to their practices while recognizing that “structural arrangements are interconnected and resist change.”
Debunking the “myth” that “children are colorblind” and “do not see race,” the presentation declared that “race is one of the earliest emerging social categories” for newborn babies.
Teachers were therefore told that “anti-bias early learning environments begin with you!”
The presentation listed “four core goals of anti-bias education” — “identity,” “diversity,” “justice,” and “activism.”
In the final presentation, Jones, who formerly served as president of the American Public Health Association — asserted in a video shown in the webinar that “health inequities are not accidental.”
To describe this reality, Jones used the analogy of preventing people from plummeting off a cliff. She explained that resources are not always equally available: “At some parts of the cliff, the ambulance at the bottom may have a flat tire, or maybe there’s no ambulance there at all. Maybe there’s no net nor fence. And usually at those parts of the cliff, the people are being pushed closer to the edge.”
Jones exhorted attendees to “recognize and dismantle racism, sexism, and the other big systems that assign value and structure opportunity in ways that undermine some groups more than others but hurt us all.”
Campus Reform reached out to Head Start, Morgan, Anderson, and Jones; this article will be updated with any comment.
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