Anti-Racist, Anti-Bias Commitments at Garden Oaks
Dear Garden Oaks School Community -
Today, as George Floyd is laid to rest, I feel compelled to comment on the current climate of black-white racism within our city and country. A quote by Dr. Angela Y. Davis has served as my mantra (over the past few days): "I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept." While anti-racist, anti-bias awareness and action has been a focus of our faculty and PTO over the years, we must continue to be mindful of the importance of these efforts and accelerate our work at school and in our community.
I’d like to share a few ideas of action that we can take collectively:
Read, listen and learn from those who are in the work. John Nimmo, one of the authors of the book, Leading Anti-Bias Early Childhood Programs: A Guide for Change, offered these words of wisdom : “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. 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 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. Attend to your child’s protection from the trauma that is racism.”
Author Nadia Jaboneta writes, You Can’t Celebrate That: Navigating the Deep Waters of Social Justice Teaching, “I see firsthand how racism infuses all of our lives, White people and people of color, children and adults…I’ve begun to listen for opportunities to take up the conversation about race and religion with the children as a way to plant the seeds for a more just society.”
Personal Pause. Take time to breathe deeply and reflect on personal biases and experiences. Name your feelings and practice your strategies to be an ally. Discuss them with family and friends.
Feedback. Please contribute your voice to the discussion around our school commitment to anti-racism and anti-bias. What can we do to improve our school to ensure that every child, every family feels, welcome, safe and valued here at Garden Oaks? Here is the link to our preliminary survey https://forms.gle/RztnTmCMocJBkBSx5
Committee work. We will review survey results, and actualize a plan of improvement moving forward. This work will be published on our school website and drive our work throughout the campus.