“We should all be equal, we all have equal worth,
but we don’t all experience equality yet.”
Earlier this week, the NYT published this thoughtful op-ed about the importance of talking openly and honestly with all children about historic and present-day racism and inequality. Falling back on the easier “we’re all equal” is not enough. The author encourages parents, in particular parents of white children, to help their children “recognize racial meanness and understand that white kids have a particular responsibility to challenge racism” when they witness it. She adds, “Raising children who are resilient for justice and able to do their part to create an inclusive society takes more.”
Service learning in schools offers a critical opportunity for students not only to have these honest conversations, but to take action to address the inequalities in their communities and beyond. Schools can and should begin these conversations as early as kindergarten and continue to offer opportunities for civic engagement throughout the elementary, middle, and high school years. The result: a new generation of engaged citizens actively involved in social problem-solving and promoting equity for all.