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May 2, 2014 Off

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but Watch Out for the Stereotypes

Cinco de mayoCinco De Mayo  is a fun and fes­tive hol­i­day in the United States, that it is often wrought with prob­lem­atic choices made by good peo­ple just want­ing to have a good time and cel­e­brate. With­out intend­ing to, peo­ple can per­pet­u­ate harm­ful stereo­types of Mex­i­cans at a pri­vate party, restau­rant, com­mu­nity fes­ti­val and even in schools.

As Cinco de Mayo fes­tiv­i­ties com­mence, it is impor­tant to stop and con­sider whether class­room obser­vances and cel­e­bra­tions in gen­eral are inclu­sive and respect­ful, and do not pro­mote stereo­typ­i­cal por­tray­als of groups of people—in this case, Mex­i­cans and Mex­i­can Americans.

Con­sider that Cinco de Mayo, which means the “5th of May,” is pri­mar­ily cel­e­brated in the United States, not in Mex­ico, and com­mem­o­rates Mex­i­can forces defeat­ing French occu­pa­tional forces in the Bat­tle of Pueblo in 1862. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo is tra­di­tion­ally a cel­e­bra­tion of Mex­i­can cul­ture, her­itage and pride. When done thought­fully, the hol­i­day can be an oppor­tu­nity to explore issues of free­dom, cul­ture and iden­tity. It also can be a time when youth receive ini­tial impres­sions of a cul­ture they may not have expo­sure to and when stereo­typ­i­cal mes­sages about Mex­i­can peo­ple are often reinforced.

Here are a few sug­ges­tions that will help cre­ate a respect­ful class­room envi­ron­ment for cel­e­brat­ing Cinco de Mayo.

  • Ensure that class­room con­tent – images, books, etc. – relat­ing to Cinco de Mayo does not pro­mote or rein­force stereo­types about Lati­nos, espe­cially Mexicans.
  • Seek out cur­ric­u­lar con­tent that edu­cates stu­dents about the rich diver­sity of Mex­i­cans and Mex­i­can Americans..Expand your focus beyond the three Fs: fes­ti­vals, fash­ion and foods to avoid triv­i­al­iz­ing the culture’s rich his­tory and people’s experiences.
  • Avoid using images and dec­o­ra­tions which rein­force one-dimensional por­tray­als of Mex­i­cans. Cinco de Mayo is not about som­breros, pon­chos and other stereo­typ­i­cal ele­ments of Mex­i­can culture.
  • Be proac­tive by address­ing issues of stereo­typ­ing when­ever they arise, cre­at­ing “teach­able moments” to dis­cuss issues of stereo­typ­ing and dis­crim­i­na­tion. If a stu­dent or col­league invokes stereo­types, either out of igno­rance or to get a laugh, address it when you see it.

Help­ing youth develop an aware­ness of the rich his­tory and impor­tance of Mex­i­cans in the United States is a wor­thy endeavor. Com­bat­ting bias in youth by chal­leng­ing stereo­types is a life-skill that will serve them through­out their lives. Visit our ADL Edu­ca­tion web­page to down­load cur­ricu­lum on a range of bias-related topics.

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August 20, 2013 Off

ADL Coordinates Coalition Letter On Department Of Education Bullying Data Collection Proposal

On June 21, the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion (DoE) announced a num­ber of revi­sions to its Civil Rights Data Col­lec­tion (CRDC) school sur­vey.  The CRDC is the largest, most impor­tant, and most com­pre­hen­sive data col­lec­tion instru­ment of its kind.  It requires schools and school dis­tricts to pro­vide data on a wide range of rel­e­vant edu­ca­tion issues.  The DoE pro­posed that CRDC add sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and reli­gion to their exist­ing effort to col­lect data on bul­ly­ing and harass­ment on the basis of race, sex, and disability. civil-rights-data-collection-bullying

Accom­pa­ny­ing resources for the DoE announce­ment stated: 

Safe envi­ron­ments are crit­i­cal to learn­ing. Since the 2009, the CRDC has pro­vided a lens on school cli­mate and the bul­ly­ing and harass­ment that stu­dents too often endure on the basis of race, sex, and disability….

ADL coor­di­nated a let­ter from 49 national orga­ni­za­tions pro­vid­ing com­ments relat­ing to these pro­posed CRDC revi­sions.  In our com­ments, ADL and its coali­tion of edu­ca­tion, reli­gious, civil rights and pro­fes­sional orga­ni­za­tions sup­ported DoE’s deci­sion to expand the CRDC to include reports of bul­ly­ing and harass­ment based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and reli­gion, and encour­aged the col­lec­tion of data on inci­dents based on gen­der iden­tity. We argued that though the impact of bul­ly­ing has been well doc­u­mented, there is insuf­fi­cient data on the nature and mag­ni­tude of bul­ly­ing directed at indi­vid­u­als on the basis of their sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion – and even less on religion-based and gen­der identity-based bullying.  

ADL and its allies also urged the Depart­ment to recon­sider their pro­posal to elim­i­nate ques­tions relat­ing to whether a school has adopted writ­ten bul­ly­ing pre­ven­tion poli­cies.  An essen­tial start­ing point for effec­tive response to bul­ly­ing and harass­ment in schools is the adop­tion of a com­pre­hen­sive, inclu­sive bul­ly­ing and harass­ment pre­ven­tion pol­icy.  The inclu­sion of ques­tions relat­ing to whether an edu­ca­tion unit has such a pol­icy, the coali­tion argued, ele­vates aware­ness of the value of these poli­cies and demon­strates that hav­ing such poli­cies is impor­tant and sig­nif­i­cant enough to high­light in the CRDC.  The coali­tion let­ter also urged the Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion to ask the edu­ca­tion units that have adopted a bul­ly­ing and harass­ment pre­ven­tion pol­icy to pro­vide a link to their pol­icy as part of their CRDC response.

A top pri­or­ity for the Anti-Defamation League is work­ing to cre­ate safe, inclu­sive schools and com­mu­ni­ties and ensur­ing that all stu­dents have access to equal edu­ca­tional oppor­tu­ni­ties.  Over the past decade, the League has emerged as a prin­ci­pal national resource devel­op­ing edu­ca­tion and advo­cacy tools to pre­vent prej­u­dice and big­otry. ADL has built on award-winning anti-bias edu­ca­tion and train­ing ini­tia­tives, includ­ing the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Insti­tute, to craft inno­v­a­tive pro­gram­ming and advo­cacy to address bul­ly­ing and its per­ni­cious elec­tronic form known as cyber­bul­ly­ing.  ADL takes a holis­tic approach to address­ing bul­ly­ing and cyber­bul­ly­ing, track­ing the nature and mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem, devel­op­ing edu­ca­tion and train­ing pro­grams, and advo­cat­ing — at the state and fed­eral level — for poli­cies and pro­grams that can make a difference.

It will be incum­bent on ADL and our allies to work with schools and school dis­tricts to make sure schools and school dis­tricts are report­ing this data accu­rately – and using the data to improve the cli­mate for learn­ing for all students.

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December 17, 2012 1

How Do We Talk to the Children?

The recent news of the shoot­ings of 20 young chil­dren and six adults at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School in New­town, Con­necti­cut has had a dev­as­tat­ing impact on both youth and adults across the coun­try. In the face of this sense­less vio­lence, many are at a loss to find the words to express the depth of their feel­ings. Despite our best efforts to pro­tect chil­dren from the details of such inci­dents, they are often more aware than we imag­ine of what is hap­pen­ing in the world around them. When fright­en­ing and vio­lent inci­dents occur, chil­dren and teens are likely to expe­ri­ence a range of emo­tions, includ­ing fear, con­fu­sion, sad­ness and anger that can man­i­fest in many dif­fer­ent ways.

To coun­ter­act fear and help chil­dren feel safe, par­ents, teach­ers and care­givers can pro­vide oppor­tu­ni­ties for chil­dren to express how they feel and chan­nel their feel­ings into pos­i­tive actions. In order to pro­vide the reas­sur­ance and guid­ance they may need, it’s impor­tant for adults to real­ize the impact of these kinds of events on them per­son­ally and to come to terms with their own feel­ings.  Before talk­ing to your chil­dren, take time to process your own feel­ings and per­cep­tions with other adults.

Be alert to signs of upset in your chil­dren, which can include with­drawal and a lack of inter­est in engag­ing in activ­i­ties, exces­sive act­ing out, fear of going to school and other behav­iors that seem out of the ordi­nary, and pro­vide a quiet time for them to ask any ques­tions they may have.  Above all, reas­sure chil­dren in age-appropriate ways that they are safe. When talk­ing to preschool­ers, for exam­ple, your response can be sim­ple and direct: “I love you and I will always do every­thing I can to make you safe.”

Dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tions like this can be an oppor­tu­nity to dis­cuss fam­ily and com­mu­nity val­ues, beliefs and tra­di­tions. You can find some help­ful guide­lines for talk­ing to chil­dren in the after­math of hate and vio­lence at: (Span­ish version)

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