Start the Conversation

Our Relationship to Race

May 26, 2022

Our Relationship to Race

Why do people look different? Why do we have different colored skin? Why is their hair so different? Navigating these questions with our young people can be challenging, but Start the Conversation is here to help explore these questions with empathy and curiosity.

In this series, Miss Caitlyn explores difference, race and racism, while encouraging viewers to ask big questions about the things they notice. This video aims to encourage lifelong conversations about difference and empower young people and their adults to bravely notice, ask, learn and celebrate those differences.

Start the Conversation

In this video, Miss Caitlyn notices something new! She notices that people are different in lots of different ways. Have you noticed this too? As viewers explore and ask questions about difference, Miss Caitlyn notices that people have lots of different skin colors and wonders why? Using the book Our Skin: A First Conversation about Race, viewers will learn about skin, melanin, race and racism. Throughout the video, young people will notice, ask, learn and celebrate their differences while feeling empowered to use these steps to make a difference in their world.

Intended Age Group: Pre-K – 2nd Grade

This video may be helpful for…
  • Everyone! This series is for young people and adults of all races, ethnicities and cultures – not just people of color.
  • Caregivers, parents, teachers, families, physicians, therapists or other folks working with young people who want to begin a conversation around difference, race and racism.
  • White parents and caregivers of multiracial children looking to open up conversations about racial differences within their family.
Questions We Will Explore
  • What color is your skin?
  • Why do we all have different colored skin?
  • What is racism?
  • What do you notice that’s different
  • What do you notice that’s the same?
Before Watching
  • We encourage adults to preview the video before watching with their young person.
  • We encourage adults to watch with their young person. That way you can take in and process information together. Adults can also help by pausing the video and assisting their young person in answering and asking questions.
  • Make sure you are ready to dive into this topic. If you, the adult, or your child are actively experiencing heightened emotions (anxiety, fear, anger, etc.) around race and difference, wait until you are both feeling more relaxed to discuss these topics.
  • If after watching this video or engaging with this topic your child becomes more anxious, overwhelmed or scared than you perceive is typical for them, it may be helpful to reach out to a medical or mental health professional. Resources can be located through your school or local healthcare facility.
After Watching
  • Once you begin conversations about race, racism and difference, make sure you continue to engage in ongoing conversations. We live in a racialized world that will often challenge the information shared in our video, so it is important to continue to have these conversations to help reinforce young people’s learning.
  • Remember, as an adult you are going into these conversations with a lot more information (and potential biases) than your young person. Try not to give more information than needed when engaging in these conversations. If your young person has a question, answer it simply and directly. Then, let the young person move the conversation forward from there.
  • Check out our Resource & Activity guides to continue this conversation and increase your own learning about these topics.

A Note from Early Childhood Education Specialist, Tara Kirton

Talking about race and injustice with young children can feel a little bit intimidating but it doesn’t have to be. Just like children might notice a friend’s new shoes, or they might notice a rainbow in the sky after it rains, young children observe similarities and differences about people in the world all of the time. After all, children are constantly making sense of the world and their place in it and this remains true even when the conversation may lead to topics that might be uncomfortable for some adults. While it may seem easier to silence young children’s curiosities and comments, this can be harmful and sends the message that race is a topic that is not okay to talk about. Since we wouldn’t silence a question related to math, science or a book that we read, likewise we should not silence children’s questions and comments about race.

Resource Guide

This guide is designed for grown-ups to continue their education and grow their resources

Activity Guide

This guide is designed for grown-ups to share with their young people to continue the conversation and practice tools/themes shared in the video.

When a gray fog rolls over the City of Different, everything becomes the same! It’s up to The Difference Detectives to discover how to stop the gray fog before it spreads everywhere.

The Difference Detectives is an interactive activity book that challenges children to notice, ask questions, learn about, and celebrate what makes people different!

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NYCCT’s Start the Conversation series has covered topics like race, civic duty, immigration, re-emerging from COVID-19 and more.

Future Conversations

NYCCT wants to hear from you! Is there a topic you’d like to see covered on Start the Conversation? Let us know!

Credits

STC’s Our Relationship to Race was scripted by Caitlyn McCain and Educational Consultant, Preschool Teacher and Doctoral Student, Tara Kirton, with inspiration from The Difference Detectives, a theatre-in-education piece created by Nicole Hogsett, Caitlyn McCain and Ciara Ward.

The resource guide was created by Caitlyn McCain with sources from Tara Kirton and Nicole Hogsett. The activity guide was created by Caitlyn McCain and Nicole Hogsett with resources from Tara Kirton.

Videography by Glenn Potter-Takata
Video Edits by Danica Clauser
Webpage by Nicole Hogsett
Website Language by Caitlyn McCain

In the Video…

Caitlyn McCain (she/her) is a Teaching Artist and Artistic Associate with New York City Children’s Theater. She holds a BFA in Drama from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a minor in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. She is currently pursuing her MA in Applied Theatre from the City University of New York. As a teaching artist, Caitlyn has served a wide range of student populations, including young people in transitional housing, neuro-diverse populations, and teens across all five boroughs of NYC. Her work centers social-emotional growth through a trauma-informed lens with the goal of fostering a generation of critical thinkers who have the tools to mindfully and meaningfully engage with the world around them. During her time with New York City Children’s Theater, Caitlyn developed Start the Conversation, a series that provides grown-ups with the language and tools necessary to start and continue nuanced conversations around big topics with their children. She is also a member of the staff Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Additionally, Caitlyn has been featured in the New York Times for her work engaging young people through theatre during the Covid-19 Pandemic. She was a featured speaker at Teacher Tom’s 2021 Play Summit, where she spoke on the importance of theatrical performance play in early childhood education.

Ciara Ward (she/her) is a Teaching Artist and Educator who fell in love with drama when she was accepted into a performing arts middle school at the age of 11. She continued her studies at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts, a performing arts high school in Queens. After high school, she attended Stony Brook University where she minored in dance and majored in Business. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business and is pursuing her master’s in Applied Theatre at the CUNY School of Professional Studies. She spent seven years working in college access, providing post-secondary counseling to hundreds of young people. Getting back to her theatrical roots, she is currently transitioning into a career that integrates the arts and education, as she believes that both can be great mediums for dialogue, confidence-building, community-building, and social justice.

nyctutoring trimmed

Translations of our resource guide and activity guide are courtesy of our friends at NYCTutoring.com. NYCTutoring.com provides personalized tutoring in a range of subjects for students in New York City, including Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, and the Bronx, and the surrounding areas of Westchester County, Western Connecticut, Long Island, and Northeastern New Jersey. Find out how NYCTutoring.com can help you achieve your learning goals right now.

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