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About the Book–Don’t Look Away: Embracing Anti-Bias Classrooms

Iheoma iruka author spotlight blog header

Dr. Iheoma Iruka, Research Professor of Public Policy at the University of Chapel Hill, shares the goals that she and the other three authors of Don’t Look Away: Embracing Anti-Bias Classrooms had in mind when writing this book. She communicates what educators, coaches, specialists, directors, and leaders of organizations can glean from this book as they work toward engaging in anti-bias, culturally-responsive education that preserves children’s race-identity, culture-identity, language, and most important of all, their humanity.

Hi, my name is Dr. Iheoma Iruka. I'm a Research Professor in Public Policy, and the founding director of the Equity Research Action Coalition at the UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. But most importantly, I am one of the four authors of the book, Don’t Look Away: Embracing Anti-Bias Classrooms.

Now first, I want to remind you that this book here was really a book that four black women– predominantly who have young kids– wanted to write to be able to champion our early education providers, teachers, and directors. We really had four big goals for Don’t Look Away: Embracing Anti-Bias Classrooms. 

Our first goal was that we wanted to honor the history and legacy of early childhood education. The second goal was we wanted to support our early care and education workforce who are viewed as essential, especially during the COVID-19 Pandemic. We also wanted to ensure that black children and other children of color experience high-quality and affirming early care and education. And finally, we wanted to create a less biased society that affirms and values all regardless of one's social-ethnic identity by providing equitable learning opportunities.

Our book is really a journey–a journey that starts with the roots of early childhood education, that's rooted in social justice. But it is also a book that asks those who are reading it, “What do you do to dismantle racism? What do you do to disrupt privilege? What do you do to disrupt institutional racism? And what if you, as an educator, had the skills and the resources to change the world?”

This book was written to make sure that early kid education providers and educators knew that they are the social justice warriors who are here to make sure that our children really experience culturally responsive, anti-biased education. We provide questions, inquiry, vignettes, real-life stories that we as parents of young children–and those who educate those who teach young children–what we're learning and seeing in the field.

We hope that this book is one that could be used by not just educators from the classroom, but also by coaches, by specialists, by directors, by schools and leaders of organizations. Because in the end, when we can humanize and take care of our children, we can protect them from trauma and harm. We can promote their health, their wellbeing, and access to educational excellence. When we can preserve their race-identity, their culture-identity, their language, and most important of all, preserve their humanity, then we are engaging in anti-biased, culturally-responsive education. I hope that you are able to look at this book, Don’t Look Away: Embracing Anti-Bias Classrooms, as one of the tools that you pick up to guide you in providing the best environments for our youngest children. Thank you.

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