LOWER MERION, Pa. (CBS) — An elementary school in Lower Merion is tackling the issue of racism by having students read a book that has raised eyebrows in some circles. But parents Eyewitness News spoke with support the assignment and the conversations about racial injustice.
“That book is about the opportunity that white children have at this moment to really connect with their instincts about racism,” said Anastasia Higginbotham, author of “Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness.”
It’s an uncomfortable conversation, but you have to start somewhere. For Gladwyne Elementary School, it’s starting in the fourth and fifth grades.
Higginbotham’s book is causing controversy within the Lower Merion School District.
“They don’t understand that what I’m doing is actually about love, it’s not about hate. The only people that really object to this book don’t understand that the book is really an invitation to be a part of something that’s about justice,” she said.
Kelly Sorg is the mother of a Gladwyne fourth-grader and welcomes these kinds of conversations with her son in the classroom.
“We have advantages that just weren’t earned and I think people don’t really want to look at that,” Sorg said.
Sorg is no stranger to conversations about race. She and a woman of color discuss issues about race in their podcast, “The Opt-In.”
She believes the time to talk about systemic racism is now.
“They’re allowed to do whatever they want without any ramifications or any consequences and I have to point this out to them. Like somebody else, if a black kid did what you just did, the cops would have been called,” Sorg said.
The Lower Marion School District is making it a priority to fully support developmentally appropriate anti-racism education, and believes “Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness” is critical in that effort.
“I think white people sometimes don’t realize that they can be part of the solution in a really constructive and beautiful way just by understanding what it means to be white and what advantages they’re experiencing even if the only advantage is just that you don’t experience anti-blackness,” Higginbotham said.
The Lower Merion School District says parents were notified, could preview the book and choose to opt.