On Thursday, January 16, the La Canada school district held a parent’s workshop in La Canada High School’s new cafeteria. The workshop talked about approaching children regarding race and diversity. The workshop was led by Mrs. Hale-Eliot, who presented on different aspects of racism and inclusion, in order to guide the parents to a better understanding of educating their children.
The workshop began with a small warm-up activity, then the event quickly transitioned to the main topic of the night — race. Mrs. Hale-Eliot, who led the workshop, posed a question: “What are your hopes and fears about talking to your children about race?” Sincerity laced into the parents responses — making sure their children were aware about what others were experiencing, being honest yet appropriate, but not increasing hypersensitivity or saying the wrong thing.
Mrs. Hale-Eliot began her presentation with a brief explanation about the social construction of race. She stated that according to the Human Genome Project, all humans are 99.9% alike in genetic makeup, and race was just a way people used to group together people with similar physical traits. Throughout her presentation, Mrs. Hale-Eliot kept the audience engaged by continuously asking questions, having them talk, and showing interesting videos related to psychological studies about race or surveys of people of color. . I noticed that not a single person mentioned a positive experience with race, and that seemed to confirm the idea that race was a social construct existing solely to divide and exclude other people. As one adult put it, their experiences was a “a bucket of cold water,” and many nodded in affirmation.
Mrs. Hale-Eliot emphasized the need to expose children to race from a young age. She stated that according to several studies, children were less biased and more prepared when their parents talked to them about race earlier in their lives, whether it be by normalizing differences, providing counter-narratives to racist ideologies, tailoring the message to the child’s identity, or increasing their media literacy.
To conclude the workshop, Mrs. Hale-Eliot stressed the importance of the parents continuing to strive for a better understanding of themselves. She recommended an Implicit Association Test by Harvard University, which reveals the test-takers biases, and encouraged the parents to actively join clubs, events, and other workshops. Many parents took notes as she elaborated on her suggestions, and the vast majority seemed intrigued by and receptive to the information.
Many of the topics she covered, like the stereotypes of Asian groups or the idea of America as the “land of opportunity,” had me thinking and reflecting on my own life. Overall, the workshop was an eye-opening experience, and it was great to see the members of our community taking a step towards more inclusivity and empathy.
Joyce Kim, Grade 10
La Canada High School