You know your friend that you can always ask anything? Well, this girl is mine and when I tell you we can ask each other anything, I mean anything. I even showed her my vagina when she was questioning my laser hair removal. So...yeah. That's where we're at which is impressive considering the outfit she was wearing when we first met in college (first impressions really last forever, but I'll spare you the details of her bedazzled outfit). Besides, I was busy rocking a puka shell necklace (whyyyy) so I clearly was not in a place to pass any judgements.
In all reality, we've been besties since the day we met. First and foremost, Kristin is my friend. But she is also a mother and a teacher at an inner-urban school in New Jersey. Why is this relevant? Well, her partner is Black and she is raising two beautiful girls: one Black, one half-Black. So when the Black Lives Matter movement came to light, she was the first person I wanted to call.
Considering we've never really talked about race, I could see how this might be awkward. But as a mother, I want to make sure I'm doing the best I can to raise good humans so you just go for it and ask the hard questions. So I called up my white friend and talked about what she does in her personal and professional life to create an inclusive environment and celebrate diversity.
As I expected, she had some great insight to share so let's dive in!
Raising children to be global citizens and culturally competent in this ever-changing world.
by Kristin Hyde
I am your all-American looking girl...blonde hair, blue eyes, fair skin, and freckles. However, I’m actually one-quarter Korean. My sister has dark hair, olive skin, and the hooded eyelids that were passed down from my grandmother. Growing up people often assumed we were friends because I don’t look like my mom or my siblings. When I was in first grade I can remember a classmate telling me I was adopted and my parents just “didn’t tell you yet.” Now looking back I wonder if that affected me more than I thought.
Growing up I always wanted to be a teacher and now I teach First Grade. When I was going for my teaching certificate I had to complete observations in different types of schools. The school that had the biggest impact on me was a charter school located in an inner city. I remember leaving the Kindergarten classroom that I observed thinking there is so much love in that room. The teacher was more than your typical classroom teacher and you felt that as soon as you walked into the room. I left there thinking that is the type of teacher I want to be...one that can do more than just teach the ABCs and 2+2=4.
I ended up teaching in charter schools in New Jersey that are 100% minority and 70% (or higher) low income. It was at my first school in Newark where I met my current partner, who was a co-worker at the time. He is Black and has a beautiful daughter, who is now my step-daughter. On March 29, 2020, in the middle of this pandemic, I gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, Sophia. I am absolutely loving being a mother and am soaking up every second with her.
I am a white woman raising Black children and even I was naive to the white privilege that I was born into. We stood alongside the Black Lives Matter marches with our signs and masks and we talked about police brutality and what that means for our kids. It’s something I never had to think about growing up as a white American. However, things changed for me in May with the release of the Ahmaud Arbery video, the killing of George Floyd, and national attention to the Breonna Taylor murder.
I feel that the first step is understanding the privilege and acknowledging that it is there whether we want it or not. The essay titled “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” by Peggy McIntosh really opened my eyes and I recommend reading the essay if you want to learn more or challenge your views. I believe that I am in a position of power being a mother and a teacher. As a mother, there is so much we can do to open up this conversation with our children.
Here are some of the things I am doing:
I am making sure that our library, both at home and in school, includes and celebrates diversity and/or has people of color as main characters.
I include all colors when buying dolls for my girls and bringing dolls into my classroom. This normalizes the differences kids may see in each other or themselves.
I teach my kids and students about all different holidays, even if I don’t celebrate them. Educating kids about different cultures and religions promotes acceptance.
Overall I think exposing children to other cultures through music, art, festivals, food, movies, and museums is second to none.
There are many things I need to do to keep our kids culturally competent in this crazy world that we are living in. Encourage curiosity and continue to ask questions and know that you may make mistakes, but that only makes you human.
“Your greatest contribution may not be something that you do but someone you raise.” - Andy Stanley
Kristin has been teaching in urban education for the past 5 years. On March 29, she gave birth in the middle of the global pandemic.