No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.
Before Racism™ is based on the fundamental belief that reaching and teaching young children at their very earliest stages of social-emotional, cognitive, and language development helps prevent the development of bias and race bias for the long-term. Teaching very young children to understand, respect and be comfortable with differences is an important part of building racial equity in this country.
Research suggests “that efforts to challenge negative attitudes and promote positive attitudes toward other racial groups need to begin early in a child’s life. Because teachers are important socialization agents, their behaviors and the curriculum they implement can play an important role in the formation of positive attitudes in children even in very early childhood” (Sutterby, 2015).
This significant research frames the nature and scope of both our challenge and opportunity: to help shape and deliver early childhood learning experiences that will have a lasting impact on children’s attitudes and behaviors toward others. Before Racism™ answers a strong call from the early childhood field for a comprehensive, integrated and focused program to prevent the development of bias and race bias within the early childcare and preschool settings.
Five core premises represent both the impetus that led to the formation of Before Racism™ and the foundation on which our work is based.
- Children are not born racist.
- Children begin to notice differences between themselves and others at a very young age and begin to make judgments and develop biases about those differences soon thereafter.
- White people need to accept and assume greater responsibility for actively addressing and preventing the development of racism and perpetuating Anti-Blackness. Before Racism is an example of the white community taking increased ownership and accountability for systemic racism and the obligation to end it.
- The content of Before Racism is informed and shaped in consultation with BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) communities, with a particular focus on anti-Blackness.
- The Before Racism program is based on the integration of science and developmentally-appropriate early childhood educational practices.