The Best Part Of Going To A Birthday Party Is The Cake.

Updated: Jul 25, 2020

An exercise you can do with children to help them understand racial injustice, discrimination, and being "othered".

This exercise in empathy building for non-BIPOC kids was originally posted in the Moms Against Racism Facebook group.


There were all the regular birthday party elements and I was having fun. And then it was cake time. The birthday kid blew out the candles, the cake was cut, and pieces were handed out.

Generally speaking, the best part of going to a birthday party is the cake. Every kid anxiously awaits cake time. They come running when cake is called and stand crowded around, salivating, as it gets cut. They often point out which part of the cake they would like. The anticipation is palpable.


When I was about 7 years old I went to a "drop your kids off" birthday party for one of the kids in my neighborhood. We weren't particularly close, but there were a bunch of us the same age, and I suspect I was invited under the premise of "inviting everyone to be fair" but to be honest, I don't know for sure.


There were all the regular birthday party elements and I was having fun. And then it was cake time. The birthday kid blew out the candles, the cake was cut, and pieces were handed out.

Everyone got a piece but me.

I watched piece after piece be handed out. And then I watched the knife be put down and the end of cake before I had a coveted piece in my hands.

I was confused. Maybe they miscounted. Maybe they didn't see me waiting. Maybe there had been a mistake. So I asked the birthday kid:

"Can I have a piece of cake too?"

"No. You can't have cake because you're Black"

I was wounded. I didn't know what that meant but I knew I was not getting cake because I was somehow different. And it was obviously bad this "Black". So, I ran home in tears.

***

This is a true story. For younger kids, posing this to them as if they were the child who wouldn't get the cake because of a difference can help them to empathize with feeling "othered" and "discriminated against".

You can then use it as a way to tell them there are many children in this world who won't get what they like and want because of the colour of their skin. That there are other children and adults, mostly people with white skin, who won't share because they want to keep it for themselves. But that your family believes that differences aren't bad, they are just different, and that there is enough in this world for everyone.

If age appropriate, you can tell them that you are doing your best to learn all the ways that you are not sharing because it is important to you that everyone gets to have the chance to have what they need and want. That you are starting to stand up to friends and family who don't want to share. It can be scary at times but that you are being brave.

***

I would love to hear your thoughts and how the discussions went with your kiddos. Let us know what resonated and what didn't. Did it spark a good conversation? You also have my permission to copy and share the exercise above if you think it would be helpful for someone else. 💕


#momsagainstracism #doingtheworkstartingathome #unlearningracism #antiracistvalues


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