January 18, 2019
Dear EMS Families,
On Wednesday night several families joined the PTO meeting to begin the discussion of how race and racial tension affects our EMS community - specifically the lives of your children.
There were varied perspectives reflected and shared at the meeting, including a poem one mother shared with her daughter’s permission.
I am just an alien,
Hiding from what could happen,
A black man has died,
From something unfair,
What can we change,
What can we do,
When we stand up for what is right we get in trouble,
Life isn’t the same for black and white
They might just be colors,
But that's not how people look
They look at us like we are aliens,
Unworthy, useless aliens that walk around,
But we are people,
Just like them,
We deserve rights to be free,
Wear our hoods
Dress how we want
Look how we want,
Without being judged,
But we all know that will never happen
I am just another alien that people see.
-Anonymous EMS 7th grade student
The incident I wrote about in my previous newsletter was not isolated. And, our conversation last night - thanks to the honesty of this student and the parents who participated - offered insight into the reality that racial tension affects everyone in our community. One parent’s reflection captured the take away of many: “Parents of white children have very little awareness of what happens in their children’s lives during school hours at it pertains to race - not because they don’t want to know or the school hasn’t communicated, but because, generally speaking, there isn’t a need. In contrast, parents of children of color have a different level of awareness, because it is a reality their children face each minute of every day.”
When one child does not feel safe, heard, seen, respected and understood, no one wins. Because, as participants named, what results is often:
increased discipline issues
Increased academic challenges
homogeneous student grouping in the cafeteria, outside, and in the hallways that provide safety and familiarity and thus greater separation
lack of focus
What we can do as an EMS community is to continue the dialogue - including student voice.
With that in mind, I invite all of you to join our next meeting on February 20th.
In the meantime, I encourage you to engage in educating yourself and creating space at home for conversations with your children.
Below are some suggested resources collected from other families and educators to support that learning.
In partnership and with gratitude,
Consider your own implicit bias.
Single Story Our lives, our cultures, are composed of many overlapping stories. Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice -- and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding. Consider using this resource to help frame your conversation.
Ruha Benjamin’s 2017 Rowland Foundation keynote speech.
Episode 31: Turning the Lens (Seeing White, Part 1) Events of the past few years have turned a challenging spotlight on White people, and Whiteness, in the United States. An introduction to our series exploring what it means to be White. By John Biewen, with special guest Chenjerai Kumanyika. Download a transcript of the episode.
Episode 32: How Race Was Made (Seeing White, Part 2) For much of human history, people viewed themselves as members of tribes or nations but had no notion of “race.” Today, science deems race biologically meaningless. Who invented race as we know it, and why? By John Biewen, with guest Chenjerai Kumanyika.
Drake's Jennifer Harvey on Raising White Kids in a Racially Unjust America For white people who are committed to equity and justice, living in a nation that remains racially unjust and still deeply segregated creates unique challenges. These challenges begin early in life and impact the racial development of white children in powerful ways.
01/18 - ACCESS testing begins for students who are English Language Learners
01/21 - ½ day - Noon dismissal
02/01 and 02/02 - District Music Festival
Do you struggle to find a babysitter when you need one? Are you looking for a sitter who has a flexible schedule and lives close by? Come to the UVM Babysitter Mingler, a chance for kids and their families in need of babysitters to meet and mingle with UVM students who want to babysit!
UVM Davis Center, 4th floor
590 Main Street
Sunday, February 3
10:30 am - 12:00 noon
(Students arrive at 10:00 am)
Families and UVM students can register at: https://spring2019babysittermingler.eventbrite.com/?aff=bored
Children welcomed and encouraged to attend - and please tell all your friends!
To register as a babysitter, you must be a current (Spring 2019) UVM student - this is an employment event for the university's students.
PLEASE NOTE: *As UVM affiliates, we cannot take on the role of holding, exchanging, or advertising the particular babysitting needs of parents in the community, or the particular babysitting availability and/or qualifications of our students. We can host Babysitter Minglers where we bring students and parents together so that they can meet face-to-face and exchange information if they so choose. We do recommend that parents check references of the students who attended the Babysitter Mingler and use whatever screening process they would normally use when hiring a sitter.*
We hope to see you there,
UVM Office of Student and Community Relations