Rahsaan Harris: Diversity, Belonging, and Racial Justice

In this series of blog posts, we asked our experts to share their perspectives on issues of race and racism and highlight the work they are doing in their respective fields. “What is your vision for the future of childhood? What are you doing in your professional capacity to achieve that vision, and/or who needs to do what to achieve that vision?”

Kindness is required

Rahsaan Harris, PhD, is the Chief Executive Officer for Citizens Committee for New York City.

I want my 6-year-old daughter to be a fierce and tireless advocate of kindness. 

Kind is the currency of kindergarten, so my family is doggedly in pursuit of it. We want our little girl to choose kindness at every turn. She should demand that people are kind to her. She should be kind to others. And she should stand up when she sees unkind acts happening in the world.

Kind people are generous and considerate. The empathy required for kindness helps individuals put themselves in others’ shoes. Kindness also requires an acknowledgement of difference. Being “colorblind” makes differences invisible. I’d rather have my differences embraced and celebrated. Seeing difference allows you to see me.

Parents raise kind children through living by example. 

Adults should be kind to themselves and demand kindness in their lives. Feelings of guilt, shame, and insecurity get in the way of being kind to oneself. 

Adults should be kind to others. Leading inclusive lives, welcoming all people, and avoiding prejudice are great ways to be kind. Are your friend and professional circles diverse? Do you have significant interactions with people of color? Do you spend time with Black people?

Ultimately, standing up against prejudice and discrimination when you see it is how you can be an advocate for kindness. Working to end educational segregation and police brutality sends a clear message to children: kindness is required.

Pursuing kindness is akin to pursuing justice. Ultimately, I want all children to fight for justice.


See more posts in this series:

Voices on the Future of Childhood

Christy Crawford | Jordan Taitingfong | Mariana Díaz-Wionczek | Martez E. Mott
Pablo Miralles | Rahsaan Harris | Stanley Pierre-Louis | Vicki Ariyasu