Teachers Brag About Injecting “Race Equity Lessons” in Elementary Classrooms

Several King County, Washington, activist teachers revealed to Crosscut how they inject race and “equity” lessons into their elementary classrooms.

Kent teacher Joanne Barber took advantage of violent Black Lives Matter protests last year “to teach more about race” in her second grade class.

“I am willing to be that teacher that has those hard conversations,” she said. “I would be doing a huge disservice to my students if I didn’t give them information that they could see themselves in.”

She told Crosscut learning that “racial history” is “just as important as reading or math.”

Barber teaches children 7- and 8-year-olds that slavery “led to institutional racism and implicit bias.” She also “weaves race and equity into every subject” and “every day in her class is filled with race education.”

Patricia Shelton, a curriculum developer in the Bellevue School District, told Crosscut, “In Bellevue, we have been working very hard in grades 5, 8 and 11 to de-center the traditional ‘white’ perspective and to center the voices of people of color.”

Shelton’s colleague, equity specialist Shomari Jones, said he successfully removed works such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird because they contained the N-word.
“There were so many instances of students feeling further oppressed by being in a classroom space where these books were being read aloud,” he said. “[These] have continued the racial trauma and racial stamina necessary for a negatively impacted student to endure when attending school.”
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