Dear BFS Community,
I write this letter knowing that race in our country brings up a myriad of experiences, feelings and identifications. We all have our own perspectives; and, in this polarized atmosphere of American politics, it is common to struggle to see the perspective of the other. While we at BFS have touched upon how racial identity shows up in the classroom, the recent events around the country have highlighted a particularly ugly part of our national identity. Our children are sensitive and internalize more than we realize. They absorb unspoken messages, the tenor of a conversation, media influences and the diversity, or lack of diversity, of the world in which they exist, which includes the preconceived ideas that people can have with regards to race.
With this email, I am hoping to inspire brave and open communication that can begin to address the inequities that are pervasive in our society and to create a safe place for our community to share and change how we view color and race. I think it is clear that we need systemic change. BFS supports this work and is ready to facilitate the collective growth of our community.
I will begin with myself. I identify as a woman of color. Because I do not often present as a person of color to the outside world, I am in a position of privilege and advantage. As a woman, I am unmistakably subject to the perceived associations and external limitations placed upon my gender. It is very important in this dialog to self identify our starting point, to recognize our advantages in order to see how other groups may be treated and dis-empowered.
How do you see yourself? Many who live with being black and brown address this question because they are confronted with it every day. What I would like us to consider is that we all have to deal with race. We all have responsibilities to make space for and to listen to the experiences of others. The onus falls upon all of us, especially with those who are nourishing the minds of young children.
The culture that we create at our school begins with the family and the school. Children are as brave and accepting as the environments in which they inhabit. It is our job to expose children to difference and acceptance. We celebrate what makes us unique and unlike the other, recognizing that when we do not, that is a choice that has consequences for how brave and loving our community can be. Here a resource for you to examine and explore. The work of becoming racially aware is not easy and brings up unconscious bias that we do not enjoy encountering, either in ourselves or others. But, it is through this work that we can grow, as a community and a society.
The Atlantic, How to talk to Kids about Race
“The worst conversation adults can have with kids about race is no conversation at all,” says author Jemar Tisby. “Talking to kids about race needs to happen early, often, and honestly.”
Let's come together, families and teachers, and talk about what we are thinking and how we can begin this growth together. Meet us Friday between 4:00-5:00 p.m. via ZOOM, password Freespace1.
Oi Ling Hu