Tell me more... FAQs
Attempting to dismantle racism with young kids has taught us a lot of the real challenges that are out there, from our own communities and from our trainees. Here’s our perspective on common concerns.
How should I get started?
Find a partner who shares your passion, desire, and faithful commitment to the journey of dismantling racism. Any true commitment to this will have a component that takes place internally. We sometimes get frustrated at our limitations in changing other people and systems, but we all have the ability to change ourselves. It is from the internal work that we become the change we want to see in the world. Along with requiring God's help, that requires having a trustworthy partner so that you're not alone. This is why we always encourage participants in our trainings to bring an auditor at no extra charge, so they can experience the growth with a friend.
Dismantling Racism is important to me, but my community isn’t ready.
Parents in my community say their kids don’t see race.
Aren't Kids too little to learn about racism?
It would be too political for me to embrace this work in my community.
How did this work start?
Tell Me the Truth About Racism began as a pilot program between the congregations of St. Chrysostom’s Chicago and St. Christopher’s Oak Park in the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. The former is found in Chicago’s dense Gold Coast neighborhood but draws parishioners from around the city. The latter is found in a near west suburb of Chicago amid a walkable residential community. Both congregations are predominantly white and affluent, but otherwise have unique characters. Families in both congregations displayed surprisingly high enthusiasm for the brand new class introducing the difficult history of racism to children during the 2021 Lenten season. Over 30 children from 20 families participated in nearly every session. The effort was shepherded by the parishes’ directors of children’s ministries, Jennifer Holt Enriquez and William Bouvel. Learn more about us here.
The stories we made for kids we served in our churches leaned into our faith to make sense of an overwhelming history. We leaned heavily on their love of Montessori principles, prioritizing visual storytelling aids, simple language, and wondering. Historically we have relied on many sources, notably Ibram Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’ An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, and primary sources like Columbus’ travel logs. We wrote the stories by connecting the dots between historical evidence and the story of our faith. The result offers a chance to see this big story from a high level perspective, and to wonder where the story is still living in our own world.
Theologically, we rest our stories on the basic Christian belief that each and every person is a child of God, a mystery that takes a lifetime to explore. This derives from our reading of Genesis and the Gospels, and is developed by the Episcopal Church’s Baptismal Covenant. This approach frames racism as systemic sin which distorts the image of God in every person and in ourselves. To capture this in children’s language we emphasize that racism tells us a "lie" about who we really are. Tell Me the Truth About Racism counters this lie with the Truth Christians know, that every person, in all their uniqueness, is equally loved and cherished by God. Unfortunately that is not what centuries of Christian influence have demonstrated. Deliberate and incremental lies were told by some to create and maintain a perceived advantage over others. Only God’s Truth can give perspective to recognize racism as a lie and to anchor the work to dismantle it. The heart of this work is to Tell the Truth about that painful story and to give room to wonder, grieve, notice where God was, and notice where God is now.