I hope this email finds you and your family well. I wanted to reach out to discuss the events that have unfolded recently regarding the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breona Taylor, and most recently George Floyd. There is little doubt that by now, you have likely seen the news and have some sort of updated reaction to the systemic racism that is being experienced by people of color in our country. These most recent events are a painful reminder of how much work there is to be done in order for so that we as a society can stand united against bigotry, racism and hate.
As Dr. Marsden discussed in his Blog post last week, our children are watching and listening. The twenty-four hours newsfeed has displayed graphic images of violence, assaultive behavior, and venomous action. It has also shown peaceful protests, and allowed us to hear from experts in the field of racism about ways to continue the conversation in our society regarding inequality, injustice and the moral and ethical treatment of people of color. The words of Barack Obama and Martin Luther KIng III have replayed in my mind over and over as I listen to their plea for a continued push along the path of positive action. Barack Obama stated recently, “If we want our criminal justice system, and American society at large, to operate on a higher ethical code, then we have to model that code ourselves.” I interpret his message to be a call for us as a society to focus on what we are teaching our kids in relation to racism and equality, and to examine our own feelings, thoughts and philosophies so that we may deliver the strongest, most constructive message to our children, so that they may continue to shape our society in a way that leads to a healthier and sustainable future: a future based on the moral and ethical treatment of all people.
I have had many requests recently from parents who would like support or direction in having these important conversations with their children. I am pleased that there is a willingness and desire to not only speak with children about difficult concepts like racism and social justice, but also a strong desire to do as well as we can to get it right. I am lucky to be a member of a professional learning community that collaborates and shares information on an almost daily basis. I am including some resources that you may find useful as you begin to explore ways to navigate these complex discussions and concepts with your children. I know that there are other Medfield educators putting together resources as well, which is great.
Obviously, this is a very difficult time, locally, nationally and globally on many levels. I don’t pretend to have even scratched the surface of the race issue confronting our world. The problem is gigantic. What we can do, however, is open the dialogue with our children, based on age appropriate level. Certainly the conversations I am having with my eight and ten year old daughters about race are different than the ones I am having with our high school students, but they are all important, vital and necessary. Although I am not an expert in all matters pertaining to race, civil rights and inequality, I recognize my privilege and also my responsibility to point you towards those people who are, and to those resources that will be helpful in developing the next generation of young people who will make this world a better, equal and just place.
With the global pandemic, remote learning, social isolation and the difficulties with racial inequality, there is no lack of things to discuss with your kids. The Medfield teachers, staff, and administration are committed to furthering the ideals of social justice. Much of this teaching would be taking place in classrooms and in hallways, before, during and in some cases, after school. Obviously, this is not happening, making each complicated discussion you have with your children exponentially more important.
We understand that there is much work to be done. Our strength lies in our ability to continue to discuss important concepts with our kids, and embrace the opportunity to lead and engage in difficult conversations with them. It is our responsibility to continue to reflect upon our own beliefs and attitudes, and to provide our young people with the information they need to be healthy, happy, kind and productive as they grow and mature.