An “incendiary” children’s book teaches children as young as two years old that the concept of race was created by white people who claimed they were “better than everyone else.”
An “incendiary” children’s book distributed in schools in New York City teaches children as young as two that the concept of race was created by white people who claimed they were “better, smarter, prettier” and that they earn more than everyone else .
The book Our skin was written by Harlem activist Megan Madison and Brooklynite and librarian Jessica Ralli, and published last year.
It starts with a simple discussion of skin colors – then launches into a screed that blames the idea of race on white people, along with an illustration of terrifying human skulls encased in glass and sitting on planks, NY Post reports.
“Long ago, long before you were born, a group of white people came up with an idea called race. They sorted people by skin color and said white people were better, smarter, prettier and deserved more than everyone else,” the book explains.
It goes on to say, “That’s not true or fair at all!” with an image of a “white” man holding up the “most beautiful skull”.
The book, intended for ages two to five, has been distributed to at least one Manhattan preschool, one on Staten Island and one Brooklyn school and appears to be part of the Department of Education’s new “Universal Mosaic Curriculum.” .
The DOE announced the plan under former Mayor de Blasio to standardize instructional materials and “better reflect” the demographics of the system. It should start in 2023.
The volume is on a suggested reading list that parents can access through the TeachingBooks website. It is part of the “Universal Mosaic Independent Reading Collections” for preschoolers created by the DOE’s Library Services, the site says.
Brooklyn parent leader Vito LaBella called the lyrics “seditious.”
“That page alone in my head just preaches hate,” he said, referring to the text about sorting people by skin color.
Mr. LaBella said at least one school in District 20 in southwest Brooklyn, where he is a member of the Community Education Council, has received the books. The principal had been told by former school chancellor Meisha Porter that they were coming. They were supposed to be taken to the kindergarten classes, but the principal waited, he added.
“There were no instructions or curriculum guide with them,” said Mr. LaBella, who is seeking the Republican nod to challenge state senator Andrew Gounardes.
He said he planned to discuss his concerns about the book at Wednesday’s Community Education Council meeting.
A Manhattan parent of a kindergarten saw the book this week at his son’s school in a box labeled “Mosaic Curriculum.”
The father said he flipped through the book and stood cool at the page that said white people invented race.
“The book itself is fine and a lot of what’s said in the book is productive and I think it’s very helpful in a discussion about race,” he said. “However, there is only one excerpt from it that I believe is so damaging that it should disqualify the entire book.”
He said he would discuss his concerns with the director.
“Racism needs to be talked about, but it needs to be talked about properly,” he said. “I don’t think it helps to tell five and six year olds that white people are all responsible for all the racism. It will be very traumatic for many five and six year olds who will blame themselves and their parents.”
The book’s story adds that “racism is also the things people do and the unfair rules they make about race so that white people get more power.”
There is no discussion that groups other than whites could be racist.
Chien Kwok, a parent leader and member of the Community Education Council in Manhattan’s District 2, said he encountered Our skin on the TeachingBooks site.
“The DOE needs to be aware that not every family will agree on what the right age is,” said Mr Kwok. “They need to be transparent and have a way to opt out and provide alternatives that families are comfortable with — especially in the younger ages.”
An Asian-American mother from Queens asked if the book is for “a black or white audience – or for all children?”
“When you see those anti-racism books, they almost always exclude Asians. It’s always talked about in a white versus black story — and that’s not what the city is — it’s a city of immigrants,” the mother said.
Elana Fishbein, head of the Pennsylvania-based group No Left Turn in Education, which opposes a “left-wing” agenda in schools, said the book brainwashes young children and that the authors seemed to feel that parents have almost a moral obligation. have to have their children. focus on skin color.
“Nobody can tell you they don’t teach CRT,” she said, referring to the critical race theory, a topic usually taught in colleges, which claims that racism is embedded in United States legal systems and policies.
The use of Our skin caused a stir in a New Jersey town last fall, where the school board finally decided that the book could only be used as part of a lesson plan and could not be read unsupervised.
“It should not be placed in the general classroom library,” said school principal Raymond González in Westfield, NJ, according to a report. “This book is best used as an interactive read aloud where trained professionals can expertly present this information.”
The Our skin authors also wrote children’s books about gender and consent.
Madison, 34, is a “trainer” at the Bronx-based Center for Racial Justice in Education, a nonprofit that has a contract with the DOE to “enable educators to dismantle patterns of racism and injustice.” She referred a reporter to the authors’ website.
There they defend the books as age-appropriate and say criticism was expected.
“We know that the harmful ideologies that these books oppose are dominant and powerful in our society… But we are not afraid. We are firmly anchored in our professional and ethical responsibilities,” they wrote.
Brooklyn’s library system, where Ralli, 42, is the coordinator of early literacy programs, has 56 copies of Our skin in his collection.
The DOE says the book is “not part of our prescribed curriculum,” but noted that schools can purchase books themselves.
When a book is “challenged,” the DOE said it convenes a “Materials Evaluation Committee” made up of parents, teachers, a school librarian and others to examine it. The department would not say whether the book is being reviewed.
“Our public schools do not shy away from books that teach our students history and that can be used to deepen their understanding of the world around them. We value and respect the perspectives and identities of our students, and we provide the opportunity for family voices to be heard on topics such as textbook lists,” a spokeswoman said.
Additional reporting by Cayla Bamberger and Susan Edelman
This article originally appeared on NY Post and is reproduced with permission
Originally published as a children’s book Our skin blames white people for racism