We know from connecting with many of you over the past few days, that the challenges of dealing with both the COVID-19 situation and the painful events surrounding George Floyd’s death can feel overwhelming. As more than one person in our Exchange Community told us, we’re exhausted from not only the pandemic, but from confronting the generational trauma of racism, and generally feeling unsafe.
We hear you and we want to help. Martin Luther King said, “Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
We can support each other in our work toward justice. We are stronger together.
We are offering an Exchange article by Kelly Matthews and Ijumaa Jordan that you can access here for free: "Our Children, Our Workforce: Why We Must Talk About Race and Racism in Early Childhood Education"
We are also re-running the Tuesday message from John Nimmo with some additional content at the end. We hope you will share this widely with staff, families and colleagues.
A Message for Us All:
“Now is not the time to be silent.
Now is the time to listen carefully to the meaning children are giving to the events around them. Young children are seeing and hearing the justifiable anger of people across this nation. Yes, limit children’s exposure to media that is not designed for them, but accept that they have the right and capacity to understand the reality of racism in our country.
Now is the time to respond to their questions and observations with authenticity. Find the language and words that are developmentally meaningful for your children, but don’t shy away from using words that children are seeking to understand like protest, police brutality, and White supremacy.
While we need to reassure children about their world, it is okay to express that you don’t know everything and that you want to learn more. Reflect visibly on your own social identities and values and their relationship to race and racism. As a White parent and teacher, I accept responsibility to not only to be aware of who I am, but to also model the everyday and concrete ways I can confront my privilege and be an ally for social justice.
We can reassure our children that good people can feel angry and frustrated, while also emphasizing values of care, kindness and community. I need to be careful not to confuse “safety” with the White privilege to not talk about racism. Instead, attend to the emotional and physical toll that racism takes on children's lives.
Now is not the time to be distracted from the underlying issues of injustice for Black and Brown Peoples, by talking about White people doing good things. Instead, talk about the proud tradition of protest, and provide examples, both historical and contemporary (e.g., Black Lives Matter) about its important role in creating a better world. Make this a continuing conversation in which children place the events of today into the large context of the many stories of People of Color contributing to the community, overcoming injustice, and leading diverse and complex lives.”
– John Nimmo, EdD, is an associate professor of early childhood education at Portland State University, Oregon, one of the authors of Leading Anti-Bias Early Childhood Programs: A Guide for Change, and a Board Member of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation.
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