by Kristi Medley
This is a copy of an email sent to parents by Kristi Medley, CCT Board Member and Director of Education at Christian Family Montessori School (CFMS). We hope that some of the resources listed here will be helpful. This is reprinted with the permission of CFMS and Kristi Medley.
In the past few weeks, we have been grieving and wrestling with the pain of racism in our country and it’s devastating daily impact on Black lives. Many of us are feeling deeply compelled to take action. And we have all wondered how to start conversations with our children to help build their understanding of racial injustice.
The safety of Black and brown children is tied up with an early understanding of racism. Black families have to be astute in assessing risk in white spaces. To protect from harm, both emotional and sometimes physical, Black parents have to begin conversations around race with their children early.
In contrast, many white parents were raised with the idea that color blindness would fix racial inequality, and are uncomfortable discussing race with our children. During an Anti-Bias Anti-Racism training at CFMS years ago, the trainer said, “White children don’t know they’re white. And then they have no lens to recognize their own privilege.”
We know that children develop an awareness of skin color and difference from the age of three months. But when we identify hair color, eye color, and then shush children when they ask questions about skin, we’ve already sent a false message to them about “race.” It can feel awkward at first to have these conversations, but it’s critical to building the foundation that will allow children to have a deeper understanding about racial injustice. The website Raising Race Conscious Children has a great resource, with phrases that might be helpful as you start the conversation.
Safe Space Radio also explored the topic of how white families can show up for racial justice. The show explores a wide variety of approaches with kids of all ages.To build your understanding of whiteness in America, the podcast Seeing White by Scene on Radio is an incredibly powerful series.
These are hard conversations and ongoing conversations, but we can help our children to become advocates for racial equity.
Embrace Race–Supporting Kids of Color in Wake of Racialized Violence
This conversation was produced not long after Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed. (Philando Castile worked at a Montessori school in St. Paul.) They discuss how caring adults can best support kids of color. How do we help children feel safe without overpromising or making them fearful? How do we teach them to approach the world with love and possibility when they so often seem targeted for harm?
Britt Hawthorne–Do I Talk with My Five Year Old about George Floyd?
Britt is an Elementary Montessori teacher who is one of the founders of Montessori for Social Justice. She discusses the question of whether you should talk to your child under 5 about George Floyd.
CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall on Racism
This Book is Anti-racist by Tiffany Jewell
Jewell is a Montessori elementary teacher and another founder of Montessori for Social Justice.Tiffany provides “20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do The Work”. This is a good book for children 9 and older to start exploring race, identity, and how to work for racial justice.