One of the major goals of KC Kids Unite is to connect students as individuals who not only realize the power of their broader community, but also find great trust within it for support and stamina in facing the larger society. As adults, we seek these same connections to build a community, whether it be one of peers, professionals or family. As we work to build communities where positive interdependence lies at the foundation, we ask students to let go of assumptions and stereotypes as they enter into the network. It is imperative that the surface layers of ourselves are allowed to be pulled back to show our authentic ones in all their glory and gore.
One way we do this is by crafting identity statements. Sara Ahmed speaks about this same idea in her book, Being the Change: Lessons and Strategies to Teach Social Comprehension. In her book she states,
“When kids are empowered to announce to the world who they are, it is far less likely that someone else will do it for them. So often in school, kids are being told who they are by the language adults use to describe them, by data, by their own peers. The world assigns or questions our own identity constantly, whether explicitly or implicitly: images and headlines tell us who is dangerous and whom we should fear. Ads and social media tell use we aren’t fit enough, thin enough, youthful enough, wealthy enough, white enough (see bleaching and whitening products). We can position kids in such a way that they can and will shout who they are from the rooftops. Identity statements can help kids reclaim or reaffirm bot their individual identities and the layers of their cultural identities.”
Ahmed refers the identity statements in her book as “I Am” statements. KC Kids Unite generalizes it to identity statements, and using a variety of books, including, If She Only Knew Me by Jeff Gray and Heather Thomas, Mixed Me and Chocolate Me by Taye Diggs, and Looking Like Me by Walter Dean Meyers. By using a variety of mentor texts to explore identity, stereotypes and microaggressions, students can openly craft their own statements based on the information they want to share.
Looking Like Me can be found @ https://spark.adobe.com/video/Dox7PWV3x7p31
From these texts, you can see below what our students came up with and what they want to share about themselves to the world that may not be evident from the outside or under the guise of our individual biases. One of the most joyful parts of this work is seeing the ways in which students begin celebrate themselves, growing in confidence of who they are and knowing it is, and always will be, enough!
3rd Grade Students:
5th Grade Students: