San Diego State researcher runs ‘anti-racist’ day care

An instructor at San Diego Community College District leads an anti-racist day care service.

The day care frequently endorses anti-racism resources for preschool education.

An adjunct faculty member at San Diego Community College District is running an anti-racist day care facility. 

Michelle DeJohnette — an adjunct faculty member at San Diego Community College District completing a joint doctoral program in education at San Diego State University and Claremont Graduate University — studies “critical theory, culturally responsible pedagogy, anti-bias/anti-racist education, and issues of equity in early childhood education, focusing on preschool.”

DeJohnette applies her learnings as director of Village Kids Family Child Care, a day care service in San Diego. Village Kids’ Twitter and Facebook pages provide resources discussing anti-racism in preschool education.

[RELATED: Yale prof decries ‘colorblindness’ in K-12 education]

Following the death of George Floyd in the spring of 2020, Village Kids shared a resource encouraging parents to teach their children about racism from infancy.

The resource states that children as young as three months old gravitate toward faces most similar to the race of their caregivers, with “expressions of racial prejudice” peaking around four or five years of age.

[RELATED: Ibram Kendi launches ANOTHER anti-racism center at BU]

Days later, Village Kids shared another list of resources for parents and educators seeking to teach about racism. Among the recommended resources was Boston University Professor Ibram X. Kendi’s list of anti-racist books for kids.

Village Kids likewise said that they were excited to watch the Netflix series “Bookmarks,” in which “celebrity readers share children’s books by Black authors to spark kid-friendly conversations about empathy, equality, self-love and antiracism.”

Village Kids retweeted an article titled “What Anti-racism Really Means for Educators,” which argues that “anti-racist work in all schools is essential.”

“We must create educational spaces that tend to the harm and violence that has been enacted against BIPOC bodies and minds — specifically those of our children,” reads the article. “Anti-racist educators recognize that this is the work of undoing, of dismantling, of liberating, of healing and of truth-telling. This is our collective work.”

During a phone interview with Campus Reform, DeJohnette explained the differences between “colorblind” and “anti-racist” education.

“Colorblindness is not what we want,” she said. Though she believes that proponents of colorblind education “have good intentions,” she notes that it is impossible to not see color.

“When you look at me, the first thing you see is that I’m a Black woman,” she explained. “You can’t not see that. So by being ‘colorblind’... that means you don’t see me. In essence, you’re making me and who I am — my culture, my race, my experiences, and inequities that I’ve lived through — you’re making those invisible.”

DeJohnette described how she actively seeks to craft an anti-racist and unbiased environment in every detail of the classroom.

“We talk a lot about bias and gender, and we are very intentional about our language,” she said. “For example, I would never say ‘fireman’ or ‘mailman.’ We’re intentional about using language like ‘firefighter’ and ‘mail carrier.’”

The classroom also has “images and books that are inclusive, that show nontraditional people in these roles.” For instance, DeJohnette makes sure that children see “Black female doctors” and “Mexican-American female construction workers.”