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Anti-Racist Practice in Early Years - Why is it so important?

Well, where do we start with this one?

Our practitioners, of course! - The ones who can effect change in young children and their families. Giving knowledge, skills and confidence for children to question and feel proud of who they are regardless of their gender, skin colour, culture, religion or difference. It all starts in Early Years, yet we are the forgotten tribe, especially men in Early Years but that's another blog in itself!. I say tribe because we all care for one another and we all look out for one another in the true sense of the word. Nobody is better or more worthier - we are all unique, individual and should be respected and celebrated for our differences. Questions about race from children and practitioners should not be brushed under the carpet because it feels uncomfortable for us to talk about, because, heaven forbid, we might say the wrong thing. The wrong thing is better than nothing! I'd rather stand corrected than be ignorant to what is happening before me. As a multi-cultural and colour-filled society we have to question our unconscious and conscious biases and be willing to be wrong. Nobody gets it right all the time do they? The current climate of 'Black Lives Matter' allows people to instinctly think and say like I did 'All Lives Matter'. However, how can all lives matter until black lives matter. We ALL need to be on a level playing field. Racism is systemic and institutional, it is there - there is no turning away from it - no more! We must show up and create allyship's with those who have been affected and suffered, regardless of race, ethnicity or culture. SHOW UP and confront it and ask WHY and EDUCATE the HATE!

On a personal note my 6 year old son was watching a football match the other day and there was a white player and a black player on the pitch at the time. He was talking about one of the them and how good they were and I said innocently 'Which player do you mean?' to which he replied 'the one with the funny hair!', I re-affirmed 'Funny Hair?' and he said 'his hair looks like worms'. He didn't initially see that one player was black and one player was white because to him all lives matter. The difference was his hair! I replied with 'they're not worms, they are cornrows'. This then led to a conversation about afro hair and we searched on the internet for different hair styles which then brilliantly progressed to 'When can we go to Jamaica?'. This was a learning experience and what better way to deal with but to offer the child a way to research it, question it and educate them. So YES, Early Years is the most importance time for brain growth, development and education so let's use that POWER we have to EDUCATE not HATE!

If you have a moment - listen to the TED Talk by Rita Pierson (RIP) who, like us in the Early Years, valued CONNECTION and the importance of relationships. That's where the power is!

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