The Hidden Gem
El Carmelo Elementary School June 3, 2020
Dear El Carmelo Families,
I had the opportunity to meet with a small group of El Carmelo teachers on Monday morning. Our intention was to discuss reopening in the fall. We spent a substantial amount of time talking through our feelings about the events in Minneapolis and across the country. We also discussed the wellness and safety of our students, and our role to help students understand skin color, race, identity and racism. We are committed to growing readers and growing allies. We are committed to creating an academically rigorous educational program for our students. We are committed to the social and emotional development of our students. The mental health and wellness of our students has a direct impact on their learning. As a result, we are committed to talking about race and helping children recognize bias and racism. We are committed to working in partnership with you to develop the skills to dismantle it.
I just attended a webinar featuring the INCREDIBLE Psychologist, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, who was interviewed in the USA Today article I provided for you on Sunday night. She mentioned that it will be easier to talk with children about racism when incidents like what happened in Minneapolis occur, when we are in conversation about race with each other and our children. Race and racism are not the same. Trying to explain the two simultaneously can be quite confusing for both adults and children. The more we talk about race, skin color, and identity, the more comfortable we become talking about race, skin color and identity. As a result of our active work, our children are prepared and ready for conversations about racism.
Some families have asked me, "Danae, what can I do? Where do I start?" Dr. Daniel Tatum and many experts in the field suggest starting with learning more about race and the history of racism in the U.S. She also suggested living a life that includes genuine adult friendships with people of a different race or ethnicity. Having play dates for both adults and kids that are diverse. Learning from each other. Learning from the lived experiences of a friend, rather than from a book or documentary, is extremely powerful in cultivating a family that recognizes and acts upon racism.
In addition to the articles I shared on Sunday, I have included a link to the Child Mind Institute article. Scroll down to click the link to the webinar that you can view for suggestions and support in discussing race and violence with your children. There is a powerful exchange between the two Psychologists that demonstrates the difficulty parents may have when they are uncomfortable talking about race.
Picture books are a wonderful way to engage children in conversations about race. Take a look at the 18 Powerful Children’s Books about Race and Racism. I would also add that picture books depicting characters of color having a typical lived experience, are also significant for children to read. This helps children recognize the many shared realities that all groups have in common, helping to shatter stereotypes and misinformation.
As you think about what you might do as an adult, Scary Mommy (what a title) offers suggestions of books for adults to grow our understanding about race, racism and the history of racialization in the United States. Maybe we could have an El Carmelo book club for parents around one, two or all of these suggested titles? We could start this summer. I'll be around...
Last Day of School!
Tomorrow marks the last day of school. Our kindergarteners and fifth graders will have virtual promotions with their classrooms. Our first through fourth graders will have goodbye celebrations too. Our children have done some incredible work over the past trimester. You, parents, have taken on a new experience too. I wish that I could say for certain that we will return at school all together in August, however, that is highly unlikely. What I will share is that we will be ready to provide a robust schooling experience for your child. We are prepared to develop their minds and support their hearts.