Here at the start of our school year, we are in a national moment reconciling with the killing of black people by police, and the backlash about racism and how we deal with it. I ask myself about our school, Who are we going to be in the face of this national moment?
When the school was created, it was done so with a mission at heart. We chose to be a community standing for diversity, quality and being a positive impact in the world. SVLC is a diverse community that embraces all walks of life, and supports the effort to dismantle racism and discrimination – within ourselves and in the community at large.
I view this as a time of responsibility in which we decide to do what’s right. A friend of mine, a mother of a young girl recently shared that her daughter was 4 the first time she was told “your skin looks like poop.” Seemingly innocent comments like this are called “micro-aggressions” where racism takes root. We address these head on in places like our own classroom. Director & teacher, Shara, recently overhead two of our girls grouping off because they were “prettiest.” Not one to shy away from a chance to turn a concern into a learning opportunity, Shara had a conversation with the girls and used this as a lesson in inclusion and diversity. I’m grateful for Shara guiding our students to be kind citizens who will learn to dismantle prejudice in the world.
In standing with the Black Lives Matter movement, we offer our kids a better way to relate to one another that addresses our differences. It’s truly our differences that enrich the fabric of our world & society – different religions, backgrounds, nationalities, beliefs and traditions. When we see injustice happening, we cannot condone it through our silence, but consider this an opportunity to talk about it and be part of change on behalf of our students and all young people. As a white woman, I carry not just the responsibility but the commitment to learn about how my privileges function to blind me to the burden, discrimination and pain racism causes for so many, as well as my role in being part of the solution rather than the problem. As star Michael Jordan recently said of his choice to donate $100 million to organizations fighting for racial justice and equality, “Black lives matter. This is not a controversial statement.” I include myself in that, and echo the sentiment by many other corporate entities who support the fight to bring police officers to justice for killing innocent black lives. We all have a role to play, especially those of privilege:
The advertising agency 72andSunny wrote on Instagram that “white people need to start carrying this burden” of combating racism. Reebok said in a message to “the black community” that it “stands in solidarity with you,” telling its social media followers: “We are not asking you to buy our shoes. We are asking you to walk in someone else’s.”From New York Times, “Corporate Voices Get Behind ‘Black Lives Matter’ Cause,” 5/31/2020.
In the classroom, we participate in the discussion about racism in a way that preschoolers can connect with. We sourced some new approaches in the “Black Lives Matter in the Classroom” curriculum with some activities best suited for preschool-aged students. Recently, we discussed racism through a book that introduces empathy, diversity and connection, called “A Rainbow of Friends.”
As a school with a mission to serve diverse families and be inclusive, we at Sedona Village Learning Center join our voices in support of dismantling racism and prejudice here at home. It takes all of us to bring about safety, inclusion and change for the community, our world and our young peoples’ futures.
Joanna Horton McPherson