(Un)Learn Young is a site meant to foster (un)learning for young people in support of an anti-
racist, socially just, and equitable world. Isms and Obias are learned young. Children download and
internalize messages from the adults, peers, and world around them that inform how they
perceive themselves and others. Contributing to anti-racism and anti-oppression requires
action. The work of co-creating and fostering a just world will require that adults both do their
own work and are thoughtful and mindful about how and what they are communicating to our
youth. This site is intended to foster meaningful dialogue between youth and adults.
(Note: The use obias instead of phobias is intentional. Language informs our understanding. Phobia connotes intense fear. Therefore, the use of the word obias is meant to challenge the fear-based framework and underscore the oppressive and hate-based ideologies that drive homophobia, transphobia, islamophobia, fatphobia, and so many more that obias are rooted in.)
Licensed Creative Arts Therapist
I received my Master's Degree in Drama Therapy from New York University. My training and work experience has afforded me the opportunity to work with a variety of age ranges and populations. I have presented my work, research and collaborations at both the regional and national conferences for the North American Drama Therapy Association. I am passionate about my work and committed to the pursuit of helping individuals and communities experience healing through drama therapeutic processes. I am currently pursuing a doctoral degree in the Program in Social Welfare at the Graduate Center (CUNY).
My work is rooted in the belief that using creative processes enhances learning and deepens empathy and understanding. Applying the creative arts to helping young people (un)learn racist and other oppressive beliefs can be more impactful than talking about things. Sustained learning happens through action and doing not just talking and thinking. Racism is active and embodied therefore the process of (un)learning must also be active and embodied.
Racism permeates every aspect of society. From the moment children are born they begin to download and internalize racist messages. Children are observant researchers, taking in information from the world around them; they are constantly seeking clues regarding how to navigate the world and fit in.
In a racist society part of this learning will naturally be steeped in racism. According to an article from The American Academy of Pediatrics, as early as 6months of age children are already able to distinguish racial differences and by 2-4 they can begin to download and internalize racially biased beliefs. By 12 years of age, racial bias may be foundationally engrained within their belief system.
Children are highly perceptive. Much of what we communicate to young people is in nonverbal indications. Do you have a racially diverse social network? Do you have racially diverse photos in your home? Do the books that are on your shelves represent diverse racial backgrounds and narratives? Do you watch TV shows, plays, and movies that explore BIPOC narratives and challenge racist stereotypes? Is the neighborhood you live in or the school your child attends racially diverse? Do your children have Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) friends, teachers, doctors, mentors? The absence of BIPOC representation in your child’s life sends a powerful message to your children about who you privilege and who you do not. Without having to say or do anything, absences such as this communicate racial bias to children. They will naturally recognize BIPOC as other, and this applies even if you and/or your children are BIPOC. Within a racist society, white is treated as default and BIPOC folx are considered other.
Remember, your conscious values may contradict your unconscious beliefs. While you may consciously feel that you are anti-racist, you may unconsciously harbor racist beliefs. These unconscious beliefs may inform the way you perceive and treat others. Harvard’s Project Implicit offers an online test that help people identify their unconscious racial biases (among other biases). Time, energy, and effort are required to foster the important and necessary work of anti-racism when living in a racist society.
Below are videos and other resources to help children and adults (un)learn racism in support of racial justice and healing.
To book a children's workshop about anti-racism/anti-oppression, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. For adult resources, services, and information about anti-racism/anti-oppression, please visit The Healing Stage