My children go to a “Hippy” school. There are seminars on empathy and compassionate communication, the students call the teachers by their first names, and there are no letter grades.
At the beginning of the school year, the kindergarten teacher sent a survey to parents asking evaluative questions about our “kiddos”…
“What are your child’s strengths?”
“What are their interests?”
“Do you have any concerns about the upcoming school year?”
I struggled with the last question for a couple reasons 1) I’ve had the teacher before and I ADORE her. 2) It’s kindergarten, who doesn’t love KINDERGARTEN?
I almost left the question blank but then I remembered Charlottesville and replied:
I’m generally concerned about how my child will be treated as an African American in this current racial climate.
To be honest, Black people worry about how our children will be treated in school. Will kids make fun of their hair? Will they be unfairly disciplined? Will they be ever be called the N-word.
In the past I’ve kept these fears to myself or whispered them during pillow talk but not this time and not anymore. I realized that speaking up may not only help my child, but help other children as well.
After completing the survey I thought of these THREE THINGS PARENTS CAN TO DO TO HELP STOP RACISM.
1. SHARE YOUR CONCERNS
It’s much easier for people to deny the realities of racism and claim to live in a “post racial” society, when they are never confronted with lived experiences, thoughts, and statistical evidence that prove racism is not just a problem of the past. If you know about the damages of Implicit Bias or how Black children are seen as older and less innocent than their peers, share that with your child’s teacher. Parents of EVERY ETHNIC group can send an email to educators and administrators asking them what steps they are taking to address systemic racism.
2. REQUEST DIVERSITY
Do your children learn about history from different perspectives? Do they learn about different cultures and see representations of those cultures ALL YEAR LONG? If not, ASK FOR IT! Ask your teachers what books or projects will be about people of color this year. If they say Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. say “That’s wonderful!” and ask for more.
3. GET EDUCATED
It’s hard to solve a problem you don’t know exists. Racism is a big problem in America but many people don’t know just how BIG it is. Racism negatively impacts the lives of People of Color everyday and damages society as a whole, but if you don’t know how it works and who it hurts, you can’t help stop it.
Here are a few resources to help learn:
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
An Indigenous People’s History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Honestly I’ve been timid in the past about addressing racism, but I can’t be quiet anymore. It’s very clear that racist people are making their voices heard, they are holding rallies, marches and are violently attacking people in order to spread their errant ideology. It’s past time, for those of us who want to see racism die, to be LOUDER, BOLDER, AND BRAVER than those who want to see it thrive.