Is My Dark Skin Beautiful?

What would you do if a child says to you that they don’t like their dark skin and wish it was lighter? What happens when tell you that they can’t go outside because they don’t want to get too dark? What if you notice that the children don’t play with the dolls with the dark skin because “those babies are ugly”.

These are all examples of colorism.

Colorism is prejudice or discrimination against individuals with a dark skin tone, typically among people of the same ethnic and/or racial group. Because talking about racism and skin color is still a taboo in our culture. Educators have the most questions about what they should say if a child is ashamed of their dark skin or children are excluding other children because of their dark skin.

A good place to begin is acknowledging and understanding that colorism exist within a racist society. Next is to think of and create responses that would support children’s healthy racial self-image.

In the case of a child not liking their skin color, reassure the child that their skin color is beautiful and a wonderful and unique part of who they are. Listen to the child’s response, acknowledge that they may have seen, heard, or experienced something where they received the message that their skin color is ugly and not preferred. Let them know while some people may believe that it’s not true. Be sure that you keep the discussion conversational rather than give a lecture about how the child should “love the skin their in”. Read the child’s cues and take seriously their concerns and thoughts.

As with most ideas, these conversations should happen frequently in addition to using the environment and adult child interactions to give the direct and indirect message of the beauty and value of dark skin tones.

In our work to support children’s healthy racial and cultural identity, it’s important to consider the following:

  • Environment (Physical & Social Emotional)
    • Do you provide opportunities to black and dark brown materials, such as black play dough, black and brown building materials, dark skin dolls, action figures, block people?
    • Are people with dark skin tones the main characters of books and stories told? Are they the heroes or only the villains?
    • When looking at the pictures in your classroom do they include people with dark skin tones? Do they hold positions of authority such as doctors, teachers, or government officials? Many times dark skin people are shown in subordinate positions.
  • Interactions (What do I say? How do I respond?)
    • Who is portrayed as beautiful, pretty, or handsome?
    • Are children warned to stay out of the sun, so that their skin doesn’t become darker?
    • How do you talk about skin color to support positive racial self-image?
  • Activities (Integrated throughout the day and year)
    • Read books that directly discuss colorism and information books about skin color
    • Have ongoing conversations with children about the value and beauty of their’s and others skin color.
    • Choose and offer black and dark brown play materials to reinforce the value of dark skin tones.

These are beginning suggestions and a place to start making changes to support healthy racial development for all children. What examples of colorism have you noticed or experienced? What do the children in you life understand about how society values light skin over dark skin? What’s your plan in discussing colorism with children?

Resources:

Book: Grandpa, Is Everything Black Bad? by Sandy Holman Lynne

Book: All The Colors We Are – 20th Anniversary Edition: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color by Katie Kissinger

Article: Children, Race, and Racism by Louise Derman Sparks, Carol Tanaka Higa, Bill Sparks

LOS NIÑOS, LA RAZA Y EL RACISMO Por Louise Derman-Sparks, Carol Tanaka Higa, Bill Sparks

 

Word for 2015

enhanced-25098-1420492943-7

I was complaining to a friend about not being able to find order and balance in everything I need to do for my life to work well. My friend wisely said to identify my priorities and focus on those. That same day while distracting myself looking at pretty things on Pintrest I found the picture above and settled on Priority being my word of 2015. Here is the debut of my commitments for 2015 which which are now priorities.

Commitment #1

Self-care

  • Daily – Play and move my body in a way that delights me.
  • Weekly – Make a craft or give myself a beauty treatment.
  • Monthly – Take myself on a date.

Commitment #2

Create more paid work through reaching people online.

  • Post on my blog 52 times this year (Yay, 1 down)
  • Send out a newsletter monthly
  • Self host and offer at least one professional development exclusively online.

Commitment #3

Travel and connect with my friends and family.

  • Go on one international trip with at least one other person
  • Send a card or a letter to one friend a month
  • Hangout with a different friend each month

What did you commit to do for 2015?

Review of 2014

IMG_2942

Hello Friends,

I spent part of my last work trip of 2014 in Pacifica, CA to co-present at a small education conference roundtable. This picture of a sunset reminds me that there is beauty in endings. Ending of the daylight, the ending of a year.

As part of my family’s Kwanzaa tradition we make commitments for the new year. Growing up we were asked to think of a few commitments we wanted to make to ourselves, our family, and community during the week of Kwanzaa and share them on the last day of Kwanzaa which is Imani.

As an adult, it’s my practice to review and reflect on the past year. Make my commitments and share those as a preview of what I would like the new year to be about. Also, I used a template from Rosetta of Happy Black Woman. Which was helpful in keeping me focused and actually writing my thoughts down.

I made four commitments for 2014

1. To waist hoop for 10 minutes.

2. Take a solo vacation.

3. Incorporate more active play in my workshops.

4. Book work in the Philadelphia area.

I achieved 3 out of the 4. Yay!

Highlights from my review of 2014

Commitment #1 Hoop Challenge

I can now hoop on my waist in both flows for 10 minutes. It took me about 2 months to master and it’s the accomplishment I’m most proud of because I worked hard to learn kinetically which is my lowest learning mode. Haven’t figured out how to take hooping selfies, maybe I will that to 2015’s commitments.

Commitment #2 Solo vacation

Even though I travel alone for work 95% of the time I was hesitant to take a solo vacation. I did it big by booking an international trip to Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa. I’ve been to both places before for work but this was the first time for a holiday!

Here are some favorite photos from the trip.

IMG_1773

Orlando Towers

IMG_1770

Posing in front of the Welcome to Soweto sign.

IMG_1598

Johannesburg center (Black and White)

IMG_1635

Entering the Apartheid Museum

IMG_1955

Mural at Robson Island

IMG_1970

Meeting up with Emily in Cape Town

IMG_2037

Table Mountain

IMG_2077

Looking out over Cape Town

Going through my pictures and notes, I didn’t have any reason to be anxious. I had an amazing time relaxing, making new friends, exploring the urban landscape, and indulging my inner history buff.

Commitment #3 – Play in workshops

Just as I believe children learn through play, I believe adults can learn through play as well.

I’m facilitating two communities of practice in San Mateo, CA. We are using Reflecting in Communities of Practice: A Workbook for Early Childhood Educators for our study book.

The picture below is from the beginning of the year where they participated in a study session recreating a child’s play with cellophane and created their own ideas about how to play with this interesting material.

IMG_1476

Cellophane falling through the air!

I had the wonderful opportunity to work with the educators at Little Owl Preschool (Thanks Dawn) to explore what it means to be in a democratic classroom. The final experience was play acting children’s conflicts. This group of educators completely immersed themselves in the roles of children. Note: I was a captive audience.

10536357_10154576091725078_3896927710552823846_o

Play acting children’s conflicts (credit Dawn Velez)

Towards the end of the year I co-presented a full day session at WECA conference with my good friend, Kelly Matthews of A Place for You Early Childhood Consulting. The picture below captures a participant building with the mini blocks in an color pattern.

IMG_2888

Color play with mini blocks

 

Those are the highlights of 2014. What were your accomplishments of 2014? What’s your tradition of reflecting on the past year?

The preview of 2015…coming soon!

Best,

Ijumaa

New site design

BTL-Joint-Venture-Funding-For-New-Purchases-Has-Arrived

Hello Friends,

Hurrah, I have a shiny, new, website. This new design is a sleek and modern way to showcase my professional development offerings and highlight current projects.

This virtual makeover was made possible by working with Kronda Adair at Karvel Digital. Kronda is incredibly knowledgable about website development. Her customer service is fantastic. She asked good questions and actively listened to help me form a vision for my business on-line home. Then turned my vision into a professional website.

I’m extremely pleased with the result and want to take you for a tour.

My website address is ijumaajordan.com

Notice at the top of the page there’s my name, under my name you’ll find a list of pages on my site.

On my Homepage  you will get an overview description of professional development topics and read the nice things people say about me and my work.

The About page is information about me, my qualifications, and the type of work I enjoy.

If you are reading this you have already found where my Blog lives. This page will be updated frequently with resources on early education, diversity, social justice, reflective practice, and profiles of current projects.

If you hover over Workshops there is a drop down menu that will take you to the pages for one of the 5 series I’m currently offering. These are Teaching and Play; Diversity & Anti-Bias Curriculum; Reflective Practice; Leadership; and  Visionary Leadership. If you are looking for a particular topic for me to facilitate, I also provide custom designed sessions and individualize current series for clients.

The last page is the Contact page.  I respond to general questions or comments, and inquires about professional development sessions for your organization.

That’s the end of the tour. Look around, leave a comment on the blog, or fill out your information on the Contact page so that we can connect.

Best,

Ijumaa

 

 

 

 

Week in Review

Oh, now that I’m here I’m not quite sure what I had in mind to review.

This week was pretty low key personally. I did go to celebrate Nisei week in Little Tokyo today. Since my friends Maria and Crystal were working in the Plaza I was able to visit them. Maria, introduced me to Austin, who she’s known since high school. When Maria visited Japan she actually stayed with his Aunt, who she only knew through instagram. Gotta love the internet.Continue Reading