Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education

Submission Type



In their early years, youth begin to notice race, develop attitudes related to race, form their own racial identity, and make decisions based on race. Adults can play a critical role in teaching about and affirming Black children’s developing identities. As educators passionate about the success and wellbeing of Black children, we envision spaces where energy is divested from surveilling, suspending, and expelling Black children and energy is invested in working to address educational injustices, particularly through the cultivation of identity affirming spaces for Black youth to grow as agents of change. In this paper, we share how the first author worked virtually with elementary and middle school students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The students in the class read complex texts, asked and answered questioned, and used information gained from the text as well as their lived experiences to better understand and confront injustices in order to imagine future possibilities for Black youth in and outside the classroom. We conclude with a discussion of the possibilities of cultivating identity affirming spaces in early childhood and elementary school classrooms. With young activists at the center, we can dream up spaces where activism is encouraged, sociopolitical identities are formed, and “good trouble, necessary trouble” becomes the foundation for systems-level change.