Tips for parents and teachers when there’s no “Beware: Racism Inside” label on the front

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This past week, Captain Underpants joined Dr. Seuss for content deemed inappropriate for their impressionable young readers.

A few drawings in several books were characterized as exhibiting “passive racism” or “hurtful” images toward Blacks and Asian Americans. Those responsible for publishing the volumes apologized for the content and vowed to take them off the market immediately.

As a white mom of three Brown kids and a former educator, I propose three reasons why the targeted books — and many others like them — should be kept on the stacks.

But not just to fill your bookshelves all by themselves. …


Ways to cope with child and teen depression and suicidal ideation

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My 19-year-old daughter’s question stunned me, but I struggled not to show it.

Navigating only online college classes during a pandemic was far from the dream of “the college experience” she had longed for since graduating from high school. That was in 2019. Looking back wistfully, she realizes how lucky she was to have had the chance to walk across the stage in a cap and gown.

Just a year later, her friends in the class of 2020 weren’t so lucky.

Living in a dorm on a college campus, experiencing “freedom” away from her parents’ watchful eyes for the first…


Discussion starters and activities for families and schools

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It must have been the musical rhyming of fantastical words that appealed to their ears and elicited loads of giggles time after time. Or maybe it was the funny, elaborate drawings that delighted their imaginations and kept them entranced for hours.

Probably it was the combination of the two.

Whatever it was, when my children were learning to read, Dr. Seuss books were their favorites.

I recall reading them for hours on end to my little ones. Soon, my oldest followed in my footsteps and “read” to her brothers. …


How I answered my son + 10 ideas for what teachers and parents must do to eliminate the need for this question

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As a white mom, my Brown son’s question made me ashamed of my country even more than the Capitol coup did.

The question came the day after I had heard about the Utah families that recently made national headlines when they requested to opt-out of Black History Month.

Apparently, the school offered the opt-out and some families liked the choice. After backlash, the school rescinded the offer. But what does that mean?

I guess that means their children “participated” in learning about famous Black Americans in the predominantly white Montessori school because this is traditionally how Black History Month is…


Anti-racist and diversity activities for kids and teens

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Curls to die for.

I remember when my now 16-year-old Brown son, Jamil, was born.

He emerged with his eyes tightly shut and the sweetest smile on his face. Not a murmur. When he eventually opened his eyes — no rush mind you, just as he is today — his fuzzy glance landed directly on my face beaming down at him.

His head was covered with dark brown-black, long, luxurious curls of the softest, finest type that ever existed. (I know. I’m biased.). A combination of my natural wave and his father’s Afro.

When he was young, I’d always let…


Anti-racism tips for parents and teachers

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Two paragraphs. That’s it.

Way back in 1984, in my 11th grade U.S. history class, that’s all that was relegated to slavery. No person, not my teacher, parents, or school administrators, found this unusual.

I wonder if Joyce Ross, the sole African-American in our entire junior class of 200 students in a parochial, all-female school in Baltimore City, thought the same.

I don’t think anyone cared to ask.

So, this year, I was very curious about what my youngest child, Jamil, was learning about slavery in his 10th grade AP U.S. History class. I wondered if the ongoing Black Lives…


Microaggressions that parents and teachers should look for and stop

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It seemed so innocent.

Latif, my Brown-skinned 12th grader, casually commented one day during dinner that a classmate had changed his screen name in their Google classroom over the holiday break.

Always one for a laugh, Latif smiled and chuckled a bit then said “Golliwogg.” He continued: “Remember all those books we read about Golliwogg when we were little?”

Thinking back to our homeschooling years, of course I remembered Florence Upton’s children’s books starring the black doll, Golliwogg, and his adventures with two white Dutch dolls.


Tips for parents and teachers in the aftermath of January 6th

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“Why is nothing happening? Why aren’t they getting arrested?” asked Jamil, my 16-year-old brown son, as we watched White police open the barricades permitting thousands of other Whites to storm the U.S. Capitol. Inside, legislators were formally certifying the Electoral College votes making Democrat Joe Biden the next President of the United States by a free and fair election.

As his white mom who had already been ashamed — but not surprised — to witness 74 million, mostly fellow White Americans, vote to re-elect Donald J. Trump in November, I knew the answer. …


Halfway there to June!

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Whew. 2020 has come and gone.

Unfortunately, not much will change on January 1st, or January 31st, for that matter. That is — the things out of your immediate control won’t budge too quickly.

There’s still a pandemic raging out of control. It appears that we’re nearing the peak, but I won’t jinx it by stating we definitely are seeing the worst numbers of cases and deaths right now. Dr. Fauci predicts a somewhat better approximation of “normalcy” by mid-year, assuming the vaccine rollout proceeds as planned.

As of yet, we’re not seeing it. In fact, there are millions of…


Post-Covid & post-Trump learning revolution

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2020 has certainly taken its toll on everyone in myriad ways. Are you looking forward to a brighter new year as much as I am?

Unfortunately, experts predict that holiday Covid-19 surges will continue for a couple of months at least. This means distance learning will continue for awhile, much to the chagrin of almost all teachers, parents, and children alike.

With remote school considered a massive failure by most, and fears that 2020 has been a “lost year” with very little actual learning going on, it’s a perfect opportunity to assess how we can make education better — for…

Jeanne Yacoubou, MS

Veteran homeschooler. Public school teacher. Single mom to 3 teens. Writing on parenting and learning at home. Let’s talk: Jeanne.Yacoubou@gmail.com

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