“You're Hot Lunch, Aren't You?”: (Re)Producing Inequity in Children’s Worlds

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


To understand how institutional and societal racism may be (re)produced in experienced childhoods, this chapter features young school children, not as sole souls, but as participants in peer worlds. Their relations with each other are their response to, and recontextualizing of, the school's policies and practices. To illustrate, the author draws on a recent ethnographic case study of a child's early schooling experiences from preschool through second grade. A minoritized student, he was assigned to a predominantly White elementary school. By using vignettes from this case, the author illustrates how, depending on school demographics, institutions may construct and reinforce racial borders among children. Literacy practices in the child's classrooms did so through such common happenings as: early testing (before any instruction has occurred) and its resulting positioning of children on a narrow skills ladder governed by an artificial timetable; seating arrangements pairing children labeled “bright” with those displayed as “not as bright”; and minimal official reading of the complexity of individual children's knowledge and experiences. If educators avoid discussions of the physical and cultural variations children experience, along with the variability of our learning strengths and challenges, they may inadvertently leave children to (re)produce society's racial borders in childhood worlds.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationReimagining Diversity, Equity, and Justice in Early Childhood
EditorsHaeny Yoon, A Lin Goodwin, Celia Genishi
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9781003231882
ISBN (Print)9781032140018, 9781032120812
StatePublished - Aug 3 2023

Publication series

NameChanging Images of Early Childhood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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