Early Risers

Minnesota Public Radio

George Floyd’s death was a tragedy and a wake up call — expanding a global conversation about race and racism. And young children have been watching it all. So how do we help them make sense of this? Early Risers is a podcast from Little Moments Count and MPR with frank facts, engaging stories and real how-tos for anyone who cares about raising children with a clear-eyed understanding of cultural differences, race and implicit bias. Hosted by Dianne Haulcy of The Family Partnership. read less

Early Risers: Wisdom From Our Guests
Aug 10 2022
Early Risers: Wisdom From Our Guests
How do children learn about race or racism? Is it ever too early to start talking to them about it? What kinds of conversations should we be having with young children about these issues? In this special episode of Early Risers, host Dianne Haulcy revisits highlights from some of her past interviews with educators, psychologists, children’s book authors, brain researchers, therapists, and others. Together these experts offer insights, practical tools, and guidance for raising children with an understanding of cultural differences, racism and implicit bias. The voices include: Dr. Rosemarie Allen - associate professor, School of Education at Metropolitan State University of DenverLouise Derman-Sparks - anti-bias education expert and author, “What if All the Kids Are White?”Dr. Damien Fair - cognitive neuroscientist and co-director, Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain, University of MinnesotaPeggy Flanagan - 50th Lieutenant Governor, state of MinnesotaChristina Gonzalez - director of Student Support Services for Richfield Public Schools, Richfield, MinnesotaBeth Hall - executive director, PACT, An Adoption AllianceBrook LaFloe - early childhood educator and entrepreneurResmaa Menakem - therapist, coach and author, “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies”Bao Phi - Writer and award-winning children’s book author, “A Different Pond”Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum - psychologist and author, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations About Race.” Episode resources: Anti-bias educator and author Louise Derman-Sparks describes the creative use of persona dolls as a tool for promoting inclusion and reducing bias. Here’s an example of how persona dolls are being used in one early childhood classroom. University of Minnesota cognitive neuroscientist Damien Fair discusses the Harvard Implicit Association Test, which includes a variety of free online assessments where you can gain insight about your own implicit biases. Early childhood educator and entrepreneur Brook LaFloe describes an Indigenous cultural resource called the medicine wheel that helped her to conceptualize the interconnectedness of the different peoples of the world as a child. There is a lack of racial and cultural diversity in children’s book characters as well as authors. EmbraceRace crowdsourced a list of recommended children’s books, featuring “kids of color being themselves.”
A Pediatrician Gets Real with His Patients in Talking About Race
Jul 27 2022
A Pediatrician Gets Real with His Patients in Talking About Race
When it comes to a child’s healthy development, the role of a family pediatrician can’t be underestimated. In recent years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health officials have identified racism as a serious public health threat. So how can pediatricians help parents and caregivers address issues of race and racism? Dr. Nathan Chomilo is a practicing general pediatrician as well as a leading voice around health equity, both in Minnesota and on the national level. He describes the conversations he has with his patients about race and how parents can work with their pediatrician as an ally when a child encounters racial bias. Guest: Dr. Nathan Chomilo is a General Pediatrician at Park Nicollet Health Services/HealthPartners and Executive Committee Member, American Academy of Pediatrics Section on Minority Health Equity & Inclusion.  Early Risers Season 3 Episode 5 Discussion Guide resources: Dr. Chomilo shared a variety of resources he recommends to families, including “Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story of Racial Injustice” by Marianne Celano, PhD, ABPP, Marietta Collins, PhD, and Ann Hazard, PhD, ABPP:  A picture book for children ages 4-8 that tells the story of a police shooting of a Black man and how two families—one white and one Black—talk with their children about what happened. Raising Race Conscious Children: A blog and resource for parents and educators engaged in actively challenging racism. EmbraceRace: A parent-led website, online community and podcast for parents who want “to raise kids who are thoughtful, informed, and brave about race.” We also recommend watching Dr. Chomilo’s 2020 grand rounds presentation to his medical colleagues at the University of Minnesota, “Racism’s Roots in Medicine &  Impact on Early Childhood.”
How Babies Start to Learn About Race
Jul 13 2022
How Babies Start to Learn About Race
Babies are like little scientists. They come into the world with a natural ability to notice patterns and form connections. By the time a child is two years old, research shows that they are already noticing racial differences. Dr. Charisse Pickron is an assistant professor and director of the Child Brain and Perception Lab at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development. She investigates how babies and toddlers start to learn about race, including why humans may have evolved to prefer the faces of people who look like them. Her research illuminates how parents and caregivers can widen our circles of connection and disrupt what she calls a “long trajectory of bias.” Guest: Dr. Charisse Pickron is an assistant professor and director of the Child Brain and Perception Lab at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development. Early Risers Season 3 Episode 4 Discussion Guide: resources: “Individual and Collective Implicit Bias in Early Childhood” - Video of a 2019 panel moderated by Dianne Haulcy where Dr. Pickron provides an overview of her research on infants and toddlers. When and How to Talk to Your Kids About Race - Dr. Pickron provides helpful tips for parents and caregivers. Dr. Pickron mentioned the work of psychologist Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations About Race.” Early Risers host Dianne Haulcy interviewed Dr. Tatum in 2021. You can listen to that episode here.
Helping Children to Love the Skin They’re In
Jun 29 2022
Helping Children to Love the Skin They’re In
As parents and caregivers, we need to be intentional about helping children–especially children of color–develop a strong foundation of positive self-esteem and ego strength. This protects them from internalizing racist messages and helps them to build a positive racial identity. Research studies show that having a positive racial and ethnic identity is associated with higher resilience and problem-solving skills. But where should parents and caregivers begin? Guest: Dr. Aisha White directs a program called Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education, based at the University of Pittsburgh, that supports the positive racial identity development of Black children. This includes feeling good about their skin color and hair texture, as well as having positive associations about belonging to a larger Black community and diaspora. It’s a way of countering the anti-Black racism in this country, with roots reaching far back to the transatlantic slave trade, the Jim Crow era that followed, and whose presence continues to impact us today. Early Risers Season 3 Episode 3 Discussion Guide .pdf Resources: Dr. White served as an advisor on this Emmy Award-winning PBS Kids Talk About Race and Racism special that models how parents can engage with young children in conversations about race. Dr. White wrote a personal essay about an encounter she had with her grandson about colorism and how she responded when he told her that a book character’s skin was “too dark.” “How to Talk Honestly with Children About Racism”: In this article for PBS Kids, Dr. White offers resource suggestions and concrete actions parents and caregivers can take, including specific activities and picture books that can open up conversations about race and racism. In this interview, Dr. White discusses her work in children’s media, including how she advises script writers to represent Black characters authentically. Dr. White mentioned the work of Louise Derman-Sparks, a longtime leader in anti-bias education in early childhood. Early Risers host Dianne Haulcy interviewed Louise Derman-Sparks in 2021. You can listen to that episode here.
Disrupting the bias within us
Jun 15 2022
Disrupting the bias within us
What should we say when a young child expresses or experiences racial bias? Maybe it’s when a child makes a comment about somebody’s skin color being ‘too dark’ or how they don’t want to play with a child of a different race. Or maybe it’s when a child has experienced racial bullying or some other kind of racialized incident in the classroom. As adults, we may find ourselves reacting or freezing up in these moments. A healthier response is to prepare what early childhood education professor and scholar Dr. Rosemarie Allen calls “a treasure chest” of ready responses for disrupting racial bias in the moment.  Episode Discussion guide: Dr. Rosemarie Allen MPR Dr. Rosemarie Allen, guest on Early Risers podcast Dr. Rosemarie Allen is a national leader around racial equity in early childhood. She’s an associate professor in the School of Education at Metropolitan State University of Denver and is founder, president and CEO of the Center for Equity and Excellence, a consulting firm specializing in racial equity and inclusion. Episode Resources: Dr. Allen has authored two children’s books about Black hair, “Stylish and Straight,” and “Cute and Curly.” She wrote these books in part, to provide white teachers with a window into the daily routines and lived experiences of Black children in their classrooms. Here are some other book titles and authors Dr. Allen recommends: How to Be an Antiracist by Dr. Ibram X. Kendi. Dr. Allen describes this book as a must- read for all educators. Waking up White by Debby Irving – a chronicle of a white educator’s equity journey. The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad – a children’s book about a Muslim girl’s pride in wearing her hijab and how she responds to bullies at school. Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry – a children’s book that celebrates the beauty of Black hair and a father’s love for his daughter. Spare the Kids by Dr. Stacey Patton – a book for adults that unpacks the harm of using corporeal punishment as a means of disciplining Black children. Dr. Allen also recommends Dr. Patton’s workshop on decolonizing Black parenting. Dr. Allen participated in a virtual panel discussion, “Teaching Anti-Racism: Making Sense of Race and Racism for Young Children” hosted by Minnesota Public Radio and Early Risers in June 2021. We also recommend Dr. Allen’s 2016 TEDx talk “School suspensions are an adult behavior,” where she talks about the epidemic of school suspensions in pre-school settings and how children of color are disproportionately impacted.
Bias and the Developing Brain
Jan 19 2022
Bias and the Developing Brain
The human brain is hardwired to recognize patterns—that’s how we figure out the world, and why humans have been able to adapt and survive over millennia. But the brain’s ability to quickly form cognitive associations can also lead to racial biases, even in very young children. On the season two finale of Early Risers, host Dianne Haulcy speaks with University of Minnesota cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Damien Fair about how we can train our brains to recognize bias and why the first thousand days of a child’s life are so critical for brain development. Dr. Damien Fair studies the developing brain as a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Minnesota: He is a professor at the Institute of Child Development, a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School and the Redleaf Endowed Director at the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain at the University of Minnesota. Download the Discussion Guide Fair was recognized as a MacArthur Fellow – also known as a ‘genius grant’ recipient in 2020. The MacArthur Foundation produced this video about Fair and his work. MPR News reported on Dr. Fair and the launch of the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain at the University of Minnesota in 2021. In 2017, Fair gave a TEDx talk about his brain research, titled “Does the brain rest? New advances in studies of brain development.” Fair discusses the Harvard Implicit Association Test during this episode, which includes a variety of free online assessments where you can gain insight about your own implicit biases.
Making immigrant and refugee stories visible: a conversation with children’s book author Bao Phi
Dec 15 2021
Making immigrant and refugee stories visible: a conversation with children’s book author Bao Phi
Bao Phi’s family came to Minnesota in the 1970s as refugees from Vietnam. He experienced both racism and feeling invisible growing up in Minneapolis. Once he became a parent, he wanted things to be different for his child, which inspired him to start writing stories that weren’t available to him when he was younger. In this episode of Early Risers, host Dianne Haulcy explores how Phi’s award-winning children’s books can be wonderful tools for opening conversations with young children about the experiences of immigrant and refugee families. Episode Resources: Bao Phi’s books for children include:“A Different Pond”“A Different Pond” received six starred reviews and won multiple awards, including a Caldecott Honor and the Charlotte Zolotow Award for excellence in children’s book writing. “My Footprints”“Hello, Mandarin Duck!” Phi reflects in this essay on George Floyd’s murder and the unrest that followed—and how he feels that sometimes “being Vietnamese in America is to be an argument.” “Untitled: A Reflection from a Vietnamese American in Minneapolis,” June 2020, Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network (DVAN) Phi has also won awards for his work as a spoken-word artist and poet. Many of his poems are autobiographical. “Cookies”“Refugeerequiem”“Broken/English” Recommended resources for learning and talking about the experiences of immigrant & refugee children & families from the Debra S. Fish Early Childhood Resource Library at Think Small
What’s Happening in the Classroom? Early Childhood Educators and Implicit Bias
Dec 1 2021
What’s Happening in the Classroom? Early Childhood Educators and Implicit Bias
About a quarter of all children in the United States younger than five years old attend some kind of formalized childcare. Early childhood programs can be a great way for children to start learning about the world, including how to build relationships with other children and adults. But part of this learning also involves absorbing the implicit biases in their environment, including unconscious assumptions about race. However, Sheila Williams Ridge, co-director of the University of Minnesota’s Child Development Laboratory School and expert on nature–based learning, says these assumptions can be challenged when teachers are trained to recognize their own implicit biases. On this episode of Early Risers, host Dianne Haulcy speaks with Williams Ridge about how she’s training a new generation of early childhood educators to recognize their own implicit biases—and how teachers and parents can respond when racialized incidents happen in the classroom.  Download the Discussion Guide Resources: Sheila Williams Ridge is co-author of “Nature-Based Learning for Young Children: Anytime, Anywhere, on Any Budget.” Her book includes play–based lesson plans and experiential activities that early childhood educators can use in a variety of settings. In this episode, Williams Ridge shares several book titles and videos she uses to introduce early childhood teachers to concepts around implicit bias, anti-racism and equity. They include: “Other People's Children: Cultural Conflict in the Classroom,” by Lisa Delpit “What if All the Kids are White: Anti-Bias Multicultural Education with Young Children and Families,” by Louise Derman Sparks and Patricia Ramsey “White Teacher,” by Vivian Paley “We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom,” by Bettina Love Introduction to implicit bias from UCLA’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion “Our Hidden Biases,” from Project ABC, an Early Childhood System of Care Community “Peanut Butter, Jelly and Racism,” from The New York Times and POV Williams Ridge also recommends taking the Harvard Implicit Association Test, which includes a variety of free online assessments to get insight about your own implicit biases. Recommended resources about racism in the early childhood classroom from the Debra S. Fish Early Childhood Resource Library at Think Small
Rethinking Thanksgiving: How to speak to young children about historical and racialized trauma
Nov 17 2021
Rethinking Thanksgiving: How to speak to young children about historical and racialized trauma
The Thanksgiving “pilgrim and Indian” stories that many of us were taught as children perpetuate harmful stereotypes and whitewash a painful history of violence and colonization that continues to impact Indigenous communities today. How can we have a more honest conversation with our children about this history? On this episode of Early Risers, host Dianne Haulcy speaks with early childhood educator and Dakota language activist Vanessa Goodthunder. She is the director of C̣aƞṡayapi Waḳaƞyeża Owayawa Oṭi, which is Dakota for “Lower Sioux Children Are Sacred School,” an early childhood program in the Lower Sioux Indian community in southwestern Minnesota where children learn Dakota history and language as their birthright. Goodthunder explains why every day is Indigenous People’s Day and how she uses language as a tool to heal from historical trauma. Download the discussion guide Resources: Goodthunder and her colleagues have created an online repository of Dakota language resources for young children and their families. The repository includes links to videos featuring Dakota language children’s songs and activities, as well as children’s books such as “Goodnight Moon” being read aloud in Dakota. For guidance on teaching young children about Thanksgiving in a socially responsible way: “Rethinking Thanksgiving Celebrations: Native Perspectives on Thanksgiving,” from the National Museum of the American Indian​​“Talking to Kids About Thanksgiving: Center Truth, Connection and Being Grateful,” from PBS SoCalRecommended books about Thanksgiving from American Indians in Children’s Literature“Native American Perspectives on Thanksgiving” from Project Archaeology Think Small has a free ParentPowered texting program where parents can receive weekly texts with facts, tips and hands-on activities parents can use to help prepare children ages 0-5 for kindergarten. Goodthunder discusses examples of historical and generational trauma, including the forced sterilization of Native women in the 1960s and 70s, and the abuse and neglect of Indigenous children at North American boarding schools, which were established by the U.S. government in the early 19th century to suppress Indigenous culture and enforce assimilation. In June 2021, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland formally announced the Federal Indian Boarding School Initiative, with the mission to document the painful history of U.S. federal boarding school policies with a focus on cemeteries and possible burial sites with the remains of Indigenous children.  The acknowledgment by the U.S. government regarding forced sterilization from the National Library of Medicine, National Institute of HealthUnderstanding the history of forced sterilization Understanding the generational impact of child sexual abuse on Native children
Race Matters: A Conversation about Transracial Adoption and Multiracial Families
Nov 3 2021
Race Matters: A Conversation about Transracial Adoption and Multiracial Families
Being able to talk about race is an important life skill for all parents, but especially for parents raising multiracial families. When a family adopts a child of a different race, questions about race and racism cannot be avoided. On this episode of Early Risers, host Dianne Haulcy speaks with transracial adoption expert Beth Hall, co-author of “Inside Transracial Adoption” and executive director of Pact, An Adoption Alliance in Oakland, California. Hall also has personal experience with transracial adoption, as the white adoptive parent of two adult children both born in the United States—a son who is African American and a daughter with roots in Guatemala. Through her personal and professional experiences, Hall has gathered valuable insights and advice for anyone who wants to talk about race with young children. Episode Resources: Beth Hall is co-author of “Inside Transracial Adoption,” originally published in 2000 and revised in 2013. The book was specifically written for the parents of transracially adopted children. Pact has a comprehensive resource library with links to articles and videos covering a wide range of topics addressing transracial adoption, including language and strategies for talking about race. Hall talks about the importance of lifting up the voices of transracial adoptees. Pact produced a 20-minute video documentary, “Adoptees Speak,” featuring the personal stories and reflections of transracially adopted youth. Download the discussion guide here:
The Danger of Being ‘Color Silent’: Talking about Race with Young Children
Oct 20 2021
The Danger of Being ‘Color Silent’: Talking about Race with Young Children
Young children are like sponges, absorbing information about the world around them. Children have already started to internalize racialized messages about their value and self-worth by the time they are three to four years old. Psychologist Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, an expert in racial identity development and the author of “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations About Race” calls this “the smog we’re all breathing.”   In our Season 2 premiere of Early Risers, host Dianne Haulcy talks with Tatum about concrete steps parents and caregivers can take to proactively affirm children, including how to respond when children ask us questions about race and physical differences. Episode Resources: Tatum’s best-selling book, “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? and Other Conversations About Race” was first published in 1997. She released an updated 20th anniversary version in 2017. Tatum’s 2017 TedX Stanford talk, “Is My Skin Brown Because I Drank Chocolate Milk?” features stories and practical advice about talking to very young children about race, including addressing the painful history of chattel slavery.  Faith Ringgold’s “Aunt Harriet’s Underground Railroad in the Sky” is one of Dr. Tatum’s favorite books to use with young children to open conversation about the horrors of chattel slavery and the courage of people who resisted. She also suggests Jeanette Winter’s “Follow the Drinking Gourd.” Tatum recommends Social Justice Books for discovering multicultural and social justice books for children. Download the discussion guide here: