Tanya Nixon-Silberg

Wee The People
Tanya Nixon-Silberg is co-founder of Wee The People and a recent faculty-in-residence facilitator of Racial Reconciliation and Healing Project (RRHP), a community-based initiative funded by the Kellogg Foundation and based at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. RRHP recruits, trains and supports youth ages 15-22 in developing a racial justice framework to combat institutional racism. Throughout her professional career, Tanya has spearheaded community efforts that serve young children, Black women, and the elderly. Tanya’s commitment to Black women and families began as an undergraduate at Umass-Boston, where she conducted research on stress, emotional eating, and adverse health impacts of racism.

Presentations from Facing Race 2018

Never Too Young: A Community-Based Model for Race and Equity Work with Kids Ages 4-12

“Why is that lady brown?”
“How do you kill Mr. Phil and nothing happens?”
This session is for educators, parents, and anyone seeking resources and strategies to engage young kids in race and equity work.

Kids notice a lot -- including about race. They sense that it matters, and they have questions that many parents -- especially White parents – aren’t prepared to answer.

Research overwhelmingly backs up what people of color already know: Color-blind parenting only perpetuates racism. Already by age 5, White children are strongly biased in favor of whiteness (Black and Latinx children show no preference towards their own race).

In 2015, two Black mothers looking to tackle this problem in their Boston community began building on their own parenting practices -- especially their use of children’s books to disrupt dominant narratives with their kids. They launched Wee The People (WTP), a social justice project for kids ages 4-12, with three goals: to give kids context for the differences they already notice; engage families in equity work by drawing on kids’ innate sense of fairness; and guide parents in confronting uncomfortable topics: racism, deportation, gentrification, misogyny, islamophobia, homophobia.

Equity leaders recognize the importance of racial literacy from an early age if we are to begin to dismantle racist systems and structures. With an interactive, kid-focused curriculum and over 40 partnerships with local institutions, educators, activists, artists, and children’s book authors, Wee The People offers a powerful and replicable model to engage in this work at the community level.

Speakers: Tanya Nixon-Silberg, Innosanto Nagara