Head of School Allison Webster recently asked parents to join their children in some summer learning and reading, sharing with them two options that are on DCD’s faculty reading list which are sure to be engaging and thought-provoking in light of recent events. Below is an excerpt from her letter to the community.
The killing of George Floyd and others has sparked a national moment of reckoning about the racism that exists in our country. These moments of national awareness have occurred before today, but not since the Civil Rights Movement have we seen such a dramatic call to action. Changes in beliefs, as evidenced by polling numbers supporting Black Lives Matter and massive demonstrations, have already led to actions like changes in police policy, the removal of the Confederate flag from NASCAR events, and a robust dialog about symbols and names that link to racist ideology. While this all makes for a painful moment in our country, it is also a hopeful one. We will build a more equitable country for all of our children if we take action to sustain the momentum of this time.
As a faculty and staff, one way we will sustain this momentum is by using the summer to further educate ourselves, reflect on our own feelings and behaviors, and prepare to engage our students in conversations about race and equity next year; we hope you will join us in this process. Conversations about identity, racism, and equity already take place in our classrooms, and finding ways to build upon this work is our goal. We know from the questions children ask that they are trying to make sense of the world they see. It is our responsibility to be fluid and competent when we engage in conversations with children about race in our society, modeling for them an ability to discuss topics of racism, diversity, equity and inclusion, and doing so in developmentally appropriate ways.
Mr. Rogers used to say about feelings, “If it can be mentioned, it can be managed.” When we demonstrate that racism is a topic we can talk about, one that can be “mentioned,” we help children know they can ask questions. If we do not engage them, then our silence may confuse children and inadvertently normalize racist actions and beliefs that occur around us.
This summer, our faculty and staff will be completing several group reads including New Kid, a Newbery-award winner by Jerry Craft and So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo. These particular books have been selected to further shape our thinking and help us maintain an active stance against racism. We hope you will join us in reading them and look forward to finding ways to gather with you in the fall to engage in conversations about these resources. We’ll share details about these gatherings later this summer.
I love the name of our CommUNITY event, as well as the sentiment behind it. It is in this spirit of unity and togetherness that we share these resources to unite us as a learning community working together to build an equitable school and society for all of our children.
P.S. If you are looking for resources to help generate an open dialogue, the following video with Emmanuel Acho, former NFL linebacker and current analyst with Fox Sports, is quite compelling as a start.