Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education

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Nineteenth century western beliefs about race and gender ushered in the concept of othering, in which non-white individuals were viewed and treated as subhuman and dangerous. Concurrently, the shifting concept of childhood buttressed the notion that innocence and purity were qualities most associated with and demonstrated by children from the dominant culture. As organizations tend to reflect societal values, beliefs and fears, school became a major institution designed to mold children into responsible and moral citizens. This symbolic social contract between society and school has come to reinforce childism--a form of oppression against children who have been othered. We assert that in schools, childism is evidenced as anti-Blackness and anti-Black child sexism. In this paper, we examine childism and share the narratives of Black elementary educators who resisted anti-Black childism and disrupted disciplinary violence in the elementary setting with cultural approaches.