Sandra Brown Turner is the Director of the University of Memphis Barbara K. Lipman Early Childhood School and Research Institute (pictured right). Turner brought her years of experience working with small children to the Collierville Burch Library on Tuesday October 24, to address a timely topic: How to Talk to Your Children about Race.
The Halle Room was nearly filled with people interested in the subject, and Turner distributed handouts with helpful information. She told the group that it was essential to start a conversation about race by setting ground rules. Turner’s ground rules for the evening’s discussion were: keep the conversation civil for the sake of the children and our democracy; agree to disagree; listen to what is being said by another person before you speak, and make an effort to understand what the other person is saying. Turner also read an excerpt from the children’s book Fish is Fish that illustrated the simple truth of acknowledging the differences between races while still enjoying each other’s similarities and friendship.
Turner welcomed one of her teaching assistants at the school to sit in on the talk and give his perspective. His name was JaQuille Bennett (pictured below), and as a young African-American man, he gave the audience permission to do what he felt was the right approach to addressing race differences – don’t assume things about him because of stereotypes, and ask questions to find out who he really is. He acknowledged that there is some truth in the stereotypes, but that believing only stereotypes and assuming things about people because of them leaves out a lot of details that differ from one individual to another.
Turner ended the evening with some recommendations for speaking specifically to children about race. She said that when children do say or do mean things to a person of another race, the parent or teacher should ask the child what he or she was thinking when saying or doing the mean thing. She also said that parents should provide children with a different “script” regarding race than the one the parent may have learned in his or her own youth.
Sandra Brown Turner’s talk is just another of the wide variety of programs and discussions the Collierville Burch Library offers its patrons. To find out more about upcoming events at the library, go to colliervillelibrary.org.