Skip to main content

Anti-Bias and Anti-Racist Teaching

Educators can help children and youth recognize and appreciate diversity through intentional anti-bias and anti-racist teaching strategies. This lesson will focus on anti-bias and anti-racist teaching and the best way to incorporate them into everyday learning opportunities.

  • Define anti-bias and anti-racist teaching.
  • Discuss who can benefit from anti-bias and anti-racist education.
  • Recognize developmentally appropriate strategies for implementing anti-bias and anti-racist teaching.



Defining Anti-Bias and Anti-Racist Education

Terms like anti-bias and anti-racist are more popular than ever, especially in education. You have likely heard them in the news, online, or in everyday conversations. But what do these terms mean? Can an individual be anti-bias or anti-racist simply by stating it, or are tangible actions required to be practitioners of anti-bias and anti-racism efforts? Terms that get used and overused can quickly lose their meaning if the necessary action steps required to make them true are not put into practice.

Think about your work with children, youth, families, and staff. How would you define anti-bias? Is it similar or different to the way you define anti-racist? What does it mean to teach in an anti-biased and anti-racist way? Does anti-bias and anti-racist teaching mean educators should focus their attention on marginalized identities while ignoring the other children in their programs? Does it mean that educators should tell children to be nice and remind them not to be rude when they point out differences between their peers or other individuals? Or does anti-bias and anti-racist teaching require educators to be intentional in their practice to help children and youth learn to recognize inequities and unfairness in order to develop tools to combat them?

The term anti-bias might remind you of the discussion in Lesson 2, which focused on implicit bias. In Lesson 2, we explained that implicit bias refers to the automatic and unconscious responses that we think, feel, or demonstrate. These responses are not something that people take the time to think about, and often go unnoticed by the person presenting the implicit bias to the extent that they would likely deny it when someone brings it to their attention. Nonetheless, these unconscious responses affect the way that we interact with each other, especially the way we interact with people who may have different backgrounds than our own. Implicit biases can influence important decisions about an individual’s life, including where children attend school, who has access to certain career opportunities, how people are treated in the health-care system, how people are treated when they have encounters with law enforcement, and where individuals are able to live. Even though implicit bias is based on our unconscious responses, the impact of those responses, like racism, has real consequences for everyone.

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC, n.d.) defines anti-bias as “an approach to education that explicitly works to end all forms of bias and discrimination.” A key word in the definition is “explicitly.” In other words, anti-bias teaching cannot be subtle or implied. It needs to be spoken, it needs to be clear, and the message needs to be direct to achieve the goals of ending bias and discrimination in all their forms. “In an anti-bias classroom, children learn to be proud of themselves and their families, to respect human differences, to recognize bias, and to speak up for what is right” (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2009, p. 1). Anti-bias teaching allows child and youth professionals to better prepare children for the real world and the conflicts they may encounter.

To many, the reality of the world in which we live is unfair, complex, inequitable, and unjust. However, it does not need to remain that way. People have been fighting for a fairer and more just world for decades and even centuries. Although the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education case is widely known, lesser known is that the inspiration for the landmark case was based on the story of Sylvia Mendez and her family’s fight to have access to an education that was comparable to their Anglo neighbors. Sylvia’s family was Mexican American and their fight against segregation in schools took place eight years prior to Brown vs. Board of Education. Brown vs. Board of Education was comprised of five separate court cases that were heard together to fight for desegregation in public schools. Despite the landmark decision that made integration legal and should have provided equal resources to schools, almost seventy years later public schools remain largely segregated and unequal. Although Brown vs. Board of Education fought for equality in schools, reform advocates have recognized the importance of fighting for equity. Equity and equality are often used synonymously; however, they represent different ideas. It is important to recognize that everyone does not have access to the same resources in schools which provides an unfair advantage to some groups while placing other groups at a disadvantage. Thus, the fight for fairness and equity in education continues. In Lesson 6 we will discuss the difference between equity and equality in greater detail.

It is not a new concept for people to demand and fight for their human rights. The fight has included individuals of different races and ethnicities, different ages and genders, and different religious beliefs. The civil rights movement of the 1960s never really ended as it can be seen today in the Black Lives Matter movement, the Stop Asian Hate movement, and the fight to allow children to learn about their histories in classes about ethnic studies. Anti-bias teaching supports children in recognizing things that are unfair or unjust, and it empowers them to do something about it.

People have been discriminated against for their race, gender, social class, ability, religion, and appearance for decades. For these reasons, children need to learn that it’s OK to notice differences and that, just because something is different, it does not make it inherently bad or something that needs to be feared and avoided. Before children can believe this to be true, educators need to constantly do the self-work that we discussed in Lesson 1—to truly believe it and demonstrate it in their actions and practice. Anti-bias teaching requires reflective work, on the part of the educators, to constantly examine how assumptions and biases exist within them and to question those assumptions and biases whenever they appear in order to think and act differently.

“Too many early childhood materials focus on children and families who resemble the stereotypes of American culture as it is most commonly depicted — middle class, White, suburban, able-bodied, English-speaking, mother-and-father (nuclear family) as if these were the only types of families we work with” (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2009, p. 3). If children and youth typically see materials that do not reflect their identities and their experiences, what indirect and direct messages might we be sending them about their value in our programs? Some children and youth may feel invisible in the curriculum, but extra visible when it comes to discipline. This may be especially true for racially and ethnically marginalized children, particularly children from Black and Latine backgrounds. If biases and assumptions are not examined, they will no doubt affect the way educators interact with children, youth, and families. The same can also be true regarding the way we work with colleagues, since colleagues may have differing backgrounds in terms of gender identity, social class, race and/or religion. If child and youth professionals are not willing to do the continuous and intentional work of examining how they view identities that are unlike their own, they miss important opportunities to develop a positive, asset-based perspective of colleagues and the children and families in their programs.

Educators may unconsciously be carrying around stereotypes about specific religions or types of families, believing that one type of family is normal and anything outside of that structure is abnormal or wrong. This type of belief will affect the way that an educator engages with children, and it could have a negative impact on the way the educator interacts with families. “Anti-bias education attempts to provide a brighter future for every child, believing that each child is deserving of a future that allows them to reach their fullest potential” (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2009, p. 2). At the core of anti-bias teaching is the notion that every child is able to fully develop their unique gifts and abilities, but children will not be able to do so if we allow discrimination and biases to interfere with our responsibilities of caring for them in ways that allow them to feel safe, seen, and loved. Anti-bias teaching affirms the identities of children, and it does not focus solely on the parts of their identity that feel safe to acknowledge out loud, like their gender. Anti-bias teaching recognizes that children have unique identities and cultures that deserve to be affirmed and celebrated. Anti-bias teachers are those who pursue the goals of anti-bias teaching with purpose and an unwavering commitment.

According to Derman-Sparks & Edwards (2009), there are four goals in anti-bias education. It is important to note that all four goals need to be present, and they need to be working together for anti-bias education to be considered effective. Since the goals work in unison, one goal cannot be met if the other three goals have not been met.

Goal 1:

Each child will demonstrate self-awareness, confidence, family pride, and positive social identities.

Goal 2:

Each child will express comfort and joy with human diversity; accurate language for human differences; and deep, caring human connections.

Goal 3:

Each child will increasingly recognize unfairness, have language to describe unfairness, and understand that unfairness hurts.

Goal 4:

Each child will demonstrate empowerment and the skills to act, with others or alone, against prejudice and/or discriminatory actions.

each goal as a gear, when one goal is met, all the other goals are also met.
You can think of the goals as connected gears. Each is reliant on the others in order to make progress and be successful.

Who Benefits from Anti-Bias Education?

Anti-bias education benefits all children from all backgrounds since the four goals (when taught correctly) support positive child development. Some programs may appear very homogenous in terms of social class, race, ethnicity, or religion. Upon a deeper look at these programs, they may be more diverse than they first seem. Diversity can be found in the structure of families, the gender or sexuality of the staff, and/or the social class of families. Therefore, all programs must include anti-bias teaching in their curriculum. Due to the lack of diversity found in some programs, children and educators may only have media and secondhand sources from which to base their knowledge of people from different cultures or racial and ethnic backgrounds, as discussed in Lessons 1 and 2.

Imagine what it might be like if you had never met someone who communicated in a language other than English. Upon hearing Arabic, Spanish, or seeing someone use sign language for the first time, you might create beliefs about the person using the “foreign” language. Some of your beliefs about the other person might be accurate, while some are very likely to be inaccurate based on negative stereotypes you may have seen on television, in movies, in books or magazines, or in digital literacy. While the new language may be “foreign” to you, to the speaker, the language represents an important part of their culture. The other person may think of your English as “foreign”, and they too may have beliefs about you that may be correct or incorrect. The more that we teach children about diversity from a young age, the more likely they are to encounter the different people that they meet in life with curiosity, an open mind, and respect, as opposed to a fixed mindset, disrespect, or hate.

Every child will benefit from anti-bias teaching since every child can benefit from learning more about themselves and the people they may (or may not) encounter. Anti-bias teaching does not focus on one aspect of a child’s identity, it focuses on various aspects of identity with the understanding that children do not bring parts of themselves to our programs while leaving other parts at home. Children enter our programs with their whole selves and each part of their identity matters and must be validated to help them grow into confident individuals. At the same time, children need to recognize that each identity is unique, despite having some similarities. Children also need support in developing the understanding that everyone has the right to be exactly who they are, and without fear of being treated poorly or discriminated against for their size, shape, race, ethnicity, gender, ability, social class, or religion because society often teaches children otherwise at a very young age.

It’s important to note that anti-bias teaching should avoid a “tourist curriculum” (Derman-Sparks & Edwards, 2009) which would teach with the anti-bias goals in mind once in a while or during a specific time of the year, like during Black History month. This approach to anti-bias teaching is inauthentic and incomplete. Using a tourist curriculum to teach anti-bias goals will make it difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the four goals of anti-bias teaching. This approach should be avoided because it will be too brief and shallow to meet the goals of anti-bias teaching. In addition, it may cause harm by teaching children that some identities only need to be recognized and valued occasionally while other identities are always valued and affirmed.

Anti-Racist Teaching

Educator and activist Dena Simmons has spoken and written extensively about what it means to be an anti-racist educator. According to Simmons (2019), one must:

  • Acknowledge racism and white supremacy.
  • Teach representative history.
  • Talk about race with students.
  • Do something when you see racism.

Anti-racist work in schools is described as “the exercise of hope, the practice of undoing and dismantling systems of oppression, the practice of freedom and of truth-telling. Anti-racist work is the practice of healing and of restoring; it is a practice of love” (Pitts, 2020, para. 1). Anti-racist educators are lifelong learners who understand that societal messages about race are often false and harmful. As a result, the work of anti-racist teaching is ongoing, and it requires educators to remain vigilant and intentional to ensure that they are anti-racist in their words and in their practice. Historian and author, Ibram X. Kendi, makes a distinction between being “not racist” and being “anti-racist.” Kendi describes someone who is not racist as a person who denies their racist tendencies, while an anti-racist is a person who acknowledges societal problems with regard to race and inequities and challenges policies that create the racial inequities that exist (Kendi, 2020).

Anti-racist teaching does not need to look the same in each setting to be effective. However, similar to anti-bias teaching, there are some elements that must be present for the work to be effective. Anti-racist child and youth professionals associate the word “love” with action, and they recognize that silence and inaction cannot be present when talking about loving children and their families. Anti-racist child and youth professionals believe in telling the truth. They think critically -- they read, speak, write, listen, and engage, while questioning power systems and how they show up in the world by examining their own values and beliefs on a constant basis. When it comes to their practice, anti-racist child and youth professionals move beyond the status quo, and they seek out the voices and experiences of those who have been purposefully marginalized, and they uplift their stories when selecting materials to be shared with children.

In addition, anti-racist educators can identify racism when they see it and they recognize that racism can and often is internalized, which impacts the way children and youth may see themselves. Anti-racist professionals, especially those who work with Black children and youth, recognize that all of the inequities and injustices that Black children face (currently and historically) were created with a great deal of intention, and as anti-racist educators they should feel compelled to change those outcomes. Anti-racist teachers also recognize that things that oppress individuals are typically connected, so they see the relationship between classism, sexism, racism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression. They know they cannot focus on one form of oppression in isolation. As a result, anti-racist educators pour love into the child in their care, recognizing that child care programs and schools, as a function of society, have been created in ways that may exclude the voices and experiences of marginalized students, and they seek to heal the wounds caused by these truths.

Anti-racist educators also recognize that being anti-racist is not confined to the classroom. For program managers, an anti-racist approach is also seen in hiring and retention practices, it is observed in who receives promotions and who does not, and it can be seen in the leadership team and who has a voice when making decisions and who does not. Anti-racist practices can be seen in terms of which children are considered gifted and which children are considered a “problem.” It can be seen when you notice which children are pulled out of the room for “behavioral” issues, missing out on social interactions and learning with peers, while other children who also demonstrate issues around behavior receive a warning, if anything at all.

Anti-racist educators speak up when they see something that doesn’t seem right. They will notice if all the children who receive special education services are children of color and they will question what it is about the program, not the children, that is causing the trend. Anti-racist educators will take it a step further and actively work with colleagues to figure out the problem within the program. Anti-racist educators will recognize that biases, assumptions, and internalized racism can cause us to see children and youth as the problem. In addition, these educators will make sure that parent engagement is designed with tremendous care and thought to provide opportunities for all parents to engage with a program and not just the parents who have a schedule that aligns with the program’s schedule.

Anti-racist program leaders recognize that the health of a program is only as strong as the educators working in it, and they prioritize the health and well-being of the children and youth, as well as the people caring for them. This may include offering professional learning opportunities that include mental health, instead of only focusing on the curriculum or improving learning outcomes for children. Anti-racist educators know that the work of anti-racism is essential, but it is also challenging, so care and rest must be prioritized to continue doing the work. It is also essential that the program’s mission or vision statement supports anti-racist practices. In other words, if a program is described as a place for all children to learn, thrive, and grow, but educators often find fault in marginalized children and use those reasons to suspend or expel them, that program is not living up to its mission statement and vision.

Anti-racist educators and program leaders will notice if there is a disconnect between what their program says and what they do, and they will bring awareness to the problem in a loving but firm and direct way. An anti-racist educator will remind others that they are supposed to be caring for all children and creating joyful learning experiences for children, not causing harm and distrust among the children and families. They will engage in regular reflection so they can strive for their mission and learn from their mistakes while trying their best to reduce and eliminate harmful practices that can have a lasting impact on children, youth, and families.

While it is one thing to talk about being anti-racist, the action of being anti-racist is what will have a lasting impression on the children, youth, and families with whom you work. If you strive to be anti-racist in your practice, your words must be matched with actions. In 1963, author, activist, and social critic, James Baldwin delivered a speech to New York City teachers called A Talk to Teachers. In his speech, Baldwin spoke about the urgent need for educators to recognize the gross inequities and racism Black children face in this country, and he stressed the need to equip children with tools to fight against them. He said Black children must have the tools to identify injustices that they would encounter and to empower them to do more than just accept the unfairness and low expectations that await them as Black children. Baldwin believed that educators had power and they also had a responsibility to not only recognize the racism that their Black students would face, but also do something to change the trajectory of those unfair outcomes. While this speech was given nearly 60 years ago, the same is true for the outcomes of Black children and other marginalized children today. The type of education that Baldwin was referring to was anti-racist education.

Developmentally Appropriate Anti-Racist Teaching

While some adults may believe that children are too young to engage in conversations about race, diversity, equity or fairness, any educator can confirm that young children are already engaging in these types of conversations with or without the guidance of a trusted adult to help them make sense of understandings and misunderstandings. If a child takes more snack items than the other children believe to be fair, that action will often be met with loud protests or reminders of how much should be taken. Another way young children may discuss fairness is when one child wants a second turn with a toy before giving peers an initial turn. This will often cause loud disapproval such as, “That’s not fair!” Even though children may not be thinking about equity and fairness in the same way as adults, they are still considering it in their own way. As educators, we can provide a space for children to think about issues of fairness and equity by introducing these topics to young learners.

Some adults may ask, “Aren’t young children too young to talk about race and diversity?” They may insist that children are pure and innocent and do not notice race. You may receive questions about why you would want to highlight racial differences to young children. Examples of appropriates responses in these situations include:

  • "Research shows that young children do not need adults or educators to point out racial differences because they already notice them from a young age."
  • "Young children are keen observers. They notice everything! They notice when a peer has a new pair of light-up sneakers or a shirt that features their favorite cartoon character. Young children make these observations independently and they often comment on them."
  • "Society teaches young children from a very early age that some things are not OK to talk about. And in doing so, young children may receive the incorrect message that some topics are better off left unspoken."

Imagine that a 3-year-old walked over to an educator and asked, “Why is your skin brown?” or a 4-year-old unexpectedly asks an educator “Why are you so dark?” How should the educator respond? Should the educator tell the child that their comment is rude or not nice? Should the educator reply “Sh!” a response guaranteed to cause the young child confusion and possibly shame and no doubt end that conversation and any conversations about race that might have followed. Why might an educator choose those responses to what sounds like an observation and not a judgment? The child did not say anything negative about having darker skin, they simply wanted to know why the educator’s skin did not look the same as theirs. In this example, the child made observations that appeared judgment free, for now.

Let’s imagine a different scenario. Think about how an educator might respond if they heard the following remarks, “You can’t be the princess! The princess has yellow hair!” Or what if an educator overheard a child telling a Black peer that their skin was “dirty.” These examples are commonplace in preschool programs, but so are the comments that are not overheard and the hurtful statements that go unnoticed. Young children make observations about race, ethnicity, and other differences in the same way that they might make observations about other things they notice. However, they will only do so if given the space and freedom to voice their comments and questions. In other words, if you silence a child’s question enough, eventually they will stop asking it. However, forcing silence around a topic does not take away the desire to know more about it. Children will often come up with their own conclusions in the absence of information, and most of the time these conclusions around race and diversity (in all of its forms) will be incorrect. The danger in not providing a space for children to ask questions or share observations is in the incorrect information or assumptions that follow the silence. If a child comments on someone’s skin and calls it dirty or makes a judgment about an individual’s hair, noting that it is less pretty, that child has already developed a set of assumptions about what is “normal” and who represents that ideal.

Internalized racism is real and starts at an early age. Children receive messages about their race and ethnicity in addition to other races and ethnicities early on. Their assumptions about race and ethnicity can develop into stereotypes in the absence of thoughtful and honest conversations. Not only are children noticing race, but they are also choosing actions and inactions based on their observations. This might be observed in how children interact with each other, or the types of roles assigned to certain children during dramatic play. As educators, we must not only respond to the questions and observations that young children have about race and diversity, but we must also be proactive and introduce these conversations early on to demonstrate that these topics are important and belong in our programs.

You might be wondering how early child care professionals should introduce anti-bias and anti-racist teaching to children. The answer is the sooner the better. Infants and toddlers should be introduced to anti-bias and anti-racist teaching, but how this looks in practice will differ based on the age group of the children. Older children are capable of more advanced discussions that can begin with observations about their community and things that are closely connected to their daily experiences. Discussions about race and diversity with older children can include a careful examination of how race, racism, and other forms of oppression show up in digital spaces.

If your program cares for infants and toddlers, you can introduce these topics through careful selection of materials. While infants will not be able to respond verbally to your comments, they are listening and taking in the information that you share through books, songs, language, and other materials in the environment. If your program claims that anti-bias and anti-racist teaching is a value for them, those words must be evident in your practices. Both of these educational commitments require continuous actions on the part of the child care professional to be effective and lead to transformation.

In the infant and toddler stage, anti-bias and anti-racist teaching should include direct and explicit discussions about books and materials that are carefully pointed out by educators (you will find examples of this in Lesson 6). What are some things that you want the children to notice in the story? What are some messages that might be implied and possibly missed by young children if you do not take the time to discuss them in a deeper way? Surface-level teaching that does not talk about the importance of respecting people’s differences is not doing the work of anti-bias and anti-racist teaching. Anti-bias and anti-racist teaching will look different at different ages and should always be developmentally appropriate. Discussions should include open-ended questions. This will foster conversations for older toddlers and preschoolers. Observations that children may notice based on read-alouds may lead them to see similarities between themselves and a character. Or children may notice differences between themselves and a character, which can lead to a discussion on how the children in your program may be similar and how they may be different.

There are many ways to approach conversations about race, ethnicity, and other differences that we observe in the world, but it is vital to have these conversations on a regular basis. It is worth noting that even the most well-intentioned educator may find it difficult to enter conversations about race and diversity with young children. It is often assumed that it is easier to talk about race as a person of color, however, that is not true. It can be difficult for everyone to talk about race because of the silence that typically surrounds the topic in our society. If talking about race is new to you, it may be helpful to begin the conversation in an affinity group of people who share the same racial background as you. You can begin by engaging in a shared experience with a book that discusses race and racism or a video clip, poetry, an image, or a podcast episode to help you on your racial literacy journey. While affinity groups serve a clear purpose it will also be important to engage in conversations about race and racism in groups that are not racially homogenous. We must learn to work through our discomfort around discussing race and racism by engaging in our self-work, having conversations with colleagues, friends and family, and ultimately, including these conversations in our work with children and youth. Anti-racist and anti-bias work includes a constant examination of one’s values, beliefs and assumptions. Reading books can provide a deeper and more complete understanding of history to understand the origins of systemic racism and how it connects to the history of enslavement. The self-work that is needed requires us to examine where our ideas come from and examine those closest to us to see how their beliefs influence our own. Our work must also include action steps, including questioning the people we work with and those closest to us in respectful ways when we hear something that sounds racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, or places people in the category of “other.” We must walk toward momentary discomfort rather than ignore the comment. We must question or interrupt their line of thinking by asking for more information about their thoughts or by sharing a resource that could provide a different perspective. This is the important and urgent work of an anti-bias and anti-racist educator.

Isn’t “Nice” Enough?

“Caring within a structure plagued by inequality takes multiple forms, and at some moments when we think we are caring for students of color we actually are harming them because we are failing to conquer a social structure that treats them unequally” (Pollock, p. 29). While most educators may describe themselves as warm, friendly, and caring and they may in fact represent all of these wonderful attributes at different times, an educator cannot be warm, friendly, caring, or “nice” when they tell a child that they need to speak English in their program or when they decide that activities that are considered age appropriate are too challenging for some children without making any attempt to make adaptations to better support the child’s learning. An educator cannot be “nice” when they make judgments about families who are not able to attend meetings during the workday. This lacks consideration for the family’s need to earn an income, which is also very important. An educator cannot be “nice” when they know nothing about a child and who the child is outside of their program because they have never considered learning more about the child’s identity apart from what they see in their program. A child care professional cannot be “nice” while ignoring the fact that children come to our programs with full identities that have been developed long before they ever stepped foot into our doors and their identities continue to be developed every day when they leave our programs. We cannot ignore that children have language assets and rich cultures and histories that influence who they are and how they learn.

You may still be wondering, “Is there really a need to be an anti-bias and anti-racist educator?" Isn’t it enough to just be nice?” The answer is no. It is not enough to be nice when it comes to teaching children who live in an intentionally racist, sexist, classist, and homophobic world. Our society has a preference for individuals who are White, male, middle class, English speaking, and able bodied and who practice Christianity. Messages about these preferences are shared with young children continuously from a very early age, and the messages will continue into adulthood. There would be no need to have these conversations if our society was not designed to oppress and marginalize groups of people deemed to be “different.” However, it was carefully designed that way, and we need to teach children to be aware of these things while empowering them with the tools to question the inequities that they see and work toward creating a more just and equitable future for everyone.


Anti-bias and anti-racist education benefit all children, regardless of their background. Child and youth professionals can implement intentional anti-bias and anti-racist teaching practices to help children and youth recognize and appreciate diversity. Listen as Iheoma U. Iruka, Research Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Founding Director of the Equity Research Action Coalition at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, describes anti-bias and anti-racist teaching and shares strategies to engage in anti-racist education.

An Introduction to Anti-Bias and Anti-Racist Teaching 

Iheoma Iruka, Ph.D., describes ways child & youth professionals can engage in anti-bias and anti-racist teaching.

Anti-Bias and Anti-Racist Teaching Strategies

Iheoma Iruka, Ph.D., discusses strategies for anti-bias and anti-racist teaching.


It is not enough to understand what anti-bias and anti-racist teaching is, rather putting it into practice is where the change occurs. Use the following strategies to ensure your program is engaged in anti-bias and anti-racist education.

  • Actively assess and reflect on your own beliefs, values, and assumptions about differences.
  • Connect with colleagues to have conversations about race, ethnicity, and other differences.
  • Create policies around how to address assumptions, statements, or actions that appear to be of raciest or biased nature.
  • Provide professional development opportunities for staff to increase their cultural competence.
  • Acknowledge race and ethnicity through ongoing, culturally relevant curriculum,
  • Partner with community organizations to combat issues of racism and equity in the program community.


As discussed in this lesson, actions speak louder than words when it comes to anti-bias and anti-racist teaching. Use the activity, Reflecting on Program Policy, to examine the ways that your program communicates its commitment to anti-bias and anti-racist education and the ways in which program staff and leaders implement these practices.


Take a moment to reflect on your program environment. Consider all spaces, including entrances, hallways, and classrooms. Use the activity, Reflecting on the Environment, to think about your own practices, the materials that you provide in your environment, and the messages they convey to children, families, and coworkers.

Then, review the article, How to be an Anti-Racist Educator, to learn more about anti-racist teaching strategies to implement into your practice.


Affinity Group:
Individuals who share a common interest or goal
Derived from racism, antiblackness denies the humanity of Black people. It can be observed in many different ways including when Black people are told they could lose their job if they wear their hair in ways associated with their culture (Locs, afros, braids)
Being treated as insignificant
White Supremacy:
A belief that White people are superior to other races and therefore other racial and ethnic groups should be excluded or treated inferior, especially Black and Jewish people


Which of the following is not a goal of anti-bias teaching?
Finish this statement: Anti-bias teaching...? 
True or False: Anti-bias teaching is the same as anti-racist teaching? 
References & Resources

Baldwin, J. (1963). A talk to teachers. Zinn Education Project.

Derman-Sparks, L. & Edwards, J. (2009). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves (1st ed.). National Association for the Education of Young Children. (2009). Brown vs. Board of Education.

Kendi, I. (2020, June 9). The difference between being “not racist” and antiracist. [video]. TED Conferences.

National Association for the Education of Young Children. Position statements: Developmentally appropriate practice. Appendix B: Glossary.

Nieto, S. (2008). Nice is not enough: Defining caring for students of color. In Pollock, M. (Ed.). Everyday antiracism: Getting real about race in school (1st ed., pp.28-31). The New Press. 

Pitts, J. (2020). What anti-racism really means for educators. Learning for Justice.

Simmons, D. (2019). How to be an anti-racist educator. ASCD 61(10).