Known as the "TuTu Teacher," Vera Ahiyya filmed the clip to explain racism to her students, and later, kids everywhere. She hopes it will inspire young people to find their voices and take action.

By Maressa Brown
June 11, 2020
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Credit: Ariel Skelley/Getty Images

Parents everywhere are trying to find the right ways to teach their children about racism.  To some, explaining 400 years of racial injustice and the systemic oppression of Black people might feel like a subject that's too complicated or upsetting for their preschoolers and kindergarteners. But no one's ever too young to learn about fighting against bigotry or how to use their voice to create change, as a Brooklyn kindergarten teacher has proven.

Vera Ahiyya, known as the "TuTu Teacher," recently created a video for her students, in which she explains racism and how it has impacted the lives of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color. She also read the children's book written by Julius Lester and beautifully illustrated by Karen Barbour.

Sitting in front of a backdrop of rainbow-hued tutus, Ahiyya begins the video by acknowledging that kids might have noticed or heard their family members talking about current events.

"Beyond just the COVID virus, which is spreading, we also are combating a different kind of disease," she says. "It's something that happens with the way that people think. Some people have the belief that people with black or brown skin should not have the same rights or privileges as people with white skin. This is called racism, and racism has happened in the United States for over 400 years. That's a very long time, and by now, you would think that something so terrible would be gone. But it's not that easy. Racism is everywhere and it is our job to stop it."

The kindergarten teacher then goes on to share tips for kids as young as 3, like calling it out when you see it, writing letters, and asking questions of family members and friends and finding new ways to help.

Since sharing the clip on June 3, Ahiyya has racked up over 100K views on YouTube.

Given how viral it has gone, the video is likely already proving to be a valuable resource for parents and children. Here's hoping it also leads to concrete anti-racist steps. Alongside her post of the video on Instagram, Ahiyya noted that she also made the clip with hopes of encouraging "young people to think about what actions they can take to use their voice to speak out against injustices."

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