It Starts Here

Before we go any further on discussions about race, we have to talk about the starting line. 

By Momentous Institute | Sep 11, 2017
Starts Here 01

So you’re excited that we’ve started a new series on race, and you’re eager to read our tips on how to work with students from different cultural backgrounds, or how to rid the world of racism. We’ll get to that – well, maybe not the second one – but there’s something we have to do first. We have to talk about the starting line.

While most professionals who work with kids believe that they are genuinely accepting of all and nonjudgmental, studies show that most people have hidden or implicit biases that shape how we feel and behave. The thing about implicit biases is that we don’t always notice that we have them. It’s not overt racism, like believing that one race is superior or that all people of a certain race are inferior. But it’s there all the same. It doesn't matter what background we come from, our racial identity, how our parents raised us, what type of community we grew up in, we all carry prejudices and biases.

So, the starting line is you.

We have to do the work on ourselves first. What biases do you have? What assumptions do you make about certain types of people, or certain cultures? What exposure have you had with various groups? What groups have you never interacted with at all?

It can be difficult to do this level of self-reflection. But we can’t skip this step. We can’t be fully prepared to work with or interact with people of different cultures from our own without taking the time to understand what lens we see the world through.

We encourage you – everyone who is sincerely trying to improve race relations and wants to better understand how to connect with students, peers and colleagues – to spend a few minutes reflecting on these questions. Bonus points if you take time to write your responses and reflect on them.


What life events, people and experiences have shaped your views about ethnicity and race?


What has challenged your thinking in the last year as it relates to race, culture and ethnicity?


What is needed in order to have safe converstaions about race?


How can you support those safe conversations in your context?


The more self-reflective we can be, the better we’ll be able to challenge our own assumptions, create connections, and ultimately better connect with people of different cultures.