This morning my daughter asked, seemingly out of nowhere and initially rhetorically, “Why weren’t the Native American people and Europeans friends?”
“Why do you think they weren’t friends,” I asked.
“Well, I think they were friends, but not all of them.”
I drove in silence, unsure of what to say. I thought about my knowledge of the trail of tears, Indian boarding schools, the Indian Appropriation Act and a few personal stories shared with me when I worked with families living on the Pasqua Yaqui Reservation in Tucson, Arizona. Everything was part of the tragedies and acts of violence inflicted upon indigenous populations by White people on “Turtle Island,” which is what many native people call North America. I was also aware of a few historical accounts of relatively positive relationships between native people and colonialists…however those often relied on native people becoming Christian and “civilized.”
Since our children were infants, we have always talked about human sexuality bluntly. We refer to body parts using the anatomically correct name, we don’t hide or shame the early sexual curiosity, and babies do not come from storks. Of course, at six years old when my oldest asked, “Daddy, I know babies grow inside their mommies belly and come out of their mommy’s vagina, but how do they get in there?” I turned flush red and surprised the children with the news that mommy was coming home with donuts. I was very relieved that she forgot she asked the question…especially since that is very, very unusual. She has not asked since…but when she does, I’m a little more prepared, because I know it is critical to talk about sex when children are young. However, when she asked me about child sex trafficking, I was not prepared.
“Daddy, why are the white people so rude to Sylvia’s family?”
My initial thought was, “that’s an easy one. We’ve talked about racism and discrimination so many times. I can reference back to many of our previous conversations.” However, the answer that came out of my mouth was a little more nuanced than usual. “Because Sylvia’s family does not like what is normal for their school district.”
As I moved throughout the rest of my evening, and for several months to follow, I asked myself, “what is normal?” My goal was to advance Addi and my conversations about prejudice, discrimination and inclusion as well as develop a better understanding of the social world she/we live in?
What unfolded over time was the creation of the Cycle of Normal…and a daughter who is more aware of prejudice and discrimination.
My daughter discovered a new weapon in her arsenal of language. Sister, you’re an idiot! Daddy, don’t be an idiot! Mommy’s an idiot!
Several years back, a good friend of mine introduced me to the terms “teeth and claws words.” These are the words that can hurt people. That worked great until my daughter began hearing cuss words tossed around on the school playground this year. Continue reading →
My daughter’s favorite book for the past two months has been “For the right to learn: Malala Yousafzai’s story.” So it wasn’t all that surprising when, on our way to the grocery store this afternoon she asked, “Do all Muslim women have to wear a hijab?” Continue reading →
Daddy, what’s an opioid overdose? Sweetie, that’s another great question that we’ve never really talked about. Like many of the other great question you have, I don’t have a perfect answer and if you ask other people, they may disagree with me. If my answer doesn’t make sense or we feel we need more information, I will find someone else who can help us.
The term “stay woke” was originally coined by musician Erykah Badu in her 2008 song Master Teacher. In the song, Badu sings, “Baby sleepy time, to put her down and I’ll be standin’ round until sun down…I stay woke.” I was introduced to this song last March on an episode of the highly recommended podcast, Code Switch.
At the time, I was sitting on a bus riding through downtown Denver. My destination was a regional conference where I was scheduled to deliver a presentation titled: Facilitating a Developmentally Appropriate Conversation on Social Justice and Equity with Young Children. The presentation was built around my personal experiences growing up, talking with my daughter, Addi, and reflections from my twelve years as an early childhood educator. At the core of the conversation was how Addi and I work to be woke. This second of the three blog series outlines three lessons I have learned. We must Engage!
First in a three part blog series on social justice by Dr. Andrew Goff…because #OurKidsAreListening.
Last January, my six-year-old daughter Addi and I were driving home from the grocery store when I encountered a new phase of my life as a father. I was busy thinking about dinner with public radio quietly playing in the background. Suddenly, she asked, “Why would they want to build a wall? Will we still be able to see Vito (great grandfather in Juarez, Mexico)?”
Pause five seconds…boarder? Wait, what?…I didn’t turn off the radio when the news came on!…deep breath in… “That’s a very good question sweetie, let’s talk about that as soon as we get home.”
On our way to school this morning my six-year-old asked me about taking a knee during the national anthem. Like all of our other conversation about SJ and E, it was amazing! This is the first I have chosen to share, because they are always very personal and I do not want anyone to think that I believe I have the right answers. However, this particular conversation was is one I feel people need to think about long and hard. Continue reading →