Racism ‘Is Baked’ Into America, Book Ayer-Shirley Recommends To Kindergarteners Says

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2022/06/14/racism-is-baked-into-america-book-ayer-shirley-recommends-to-kindergartners-says/

If you look at the recommended summer reading list for incoming kindergarteners in the Ayer-Shirley Region School District, you’ll see Our Skin — A First Conversation about Race.

The book tells children that white people are responsible for racism and that “racism is baked into the culture of the United States.”

The 38-page book, written by Megan Madison and Isabel Roxas, is on the recommended reading list for incoming kindergarten pupils at two K-5 elementary schools in the central Massachusetts district:  Page Hilltop Elementary School (in the town of Ayer) and Lura A. White Elementary School (in the town of Shirley).

The book explains to children that white people not only invented racism, but continue perpetuating it to this day both overtly and covertly through society’s power structures, including government.

“A long time ago, way before you were born, a group of white people made up an idea called race,” the authors write. “They sorted people by skin color and said that white people were better, smarter, prettier, and that they deserved more than everybody else. That isn’t true or fair at all. But it’s a story that has been told for a long time.

“When people believe this untrue story about race, that’s called racism.”

The book also provides another definition of racism to students – and says that racism is common in society today.

“Racism is also the things people do and the unfair rules they make about race so that white people get more power, and are treated better, than everybody else,” the authors wrote. “Racism happens in lots of big and small ways. It’s all around us, even if we don’t always notice.”

Near the end, the book encourages children to participate in anti-racist activism; in that section, the book calls the United States a fundamentally racist country. Here is what it says:


Young children learn more by watching what you do than from what you say about your beliefs. Racism is baked into the culture of the United States. In order to undo this system, we must actively participate in anti-racist efforts.There are so many different ways to get involved! Brainstorm ideas together, and start small in your community.


The book’s web site recommends the book to “young children” and says that if they’re not taught about racism, they may develop racist opinions on their own.

Here is what the book’s description says:


Young children notice a lot — including skin color, race, and even injustice and racism. It can be hard to find the right words to answer their questions or to start a conversation about race. But when we don’t talk about it, children often come to their own conclusions, which can include bias and stereotypes because of the world we live in. Simple conversations can help them make sense of their world and even recognize and speak up about injustice. This book is a good place to start or continue the conversation. It’s okay to take a break, leave something out for now, or weave in stories of your own.

This first book in the series begins the conversation on race, with a supportive approach that considers both the child and the adult. Stunning art accompanies the simple and interactive text, and the backmatter offers additional resources and ideas for extending this discussion.


Ayer-Shirley is a regional school district in Middlesex County. Ayer has about 8,100 residents while Shirley has about 7,600.

Ayer-Shirley superintendent Adam Renda could not be reached for comment on Monday or Tuesday this week. Nor could the book’s authors.


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