Over the holiday weekend, my husband and I had a conversation with our 5-year-old and 3-year-old that went something like this:
5yo: Why do we have a holiday on Monday?D: To celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr.5yo: He was shot.D. Yes, he was.5yo: He was shot by someone with light skin and he had dark skin. Why?D: The person with light skin was angry about the changes Martin Luther King wanted to make.5yo: He wanted to make the world better.D: Yes. Do you know who he wanted to make the world better for?5yo: Dark skinned people.D: Yes. Things used to be very unequal for dark skinned people.M: And there are still inequalities today. That’s why one of Mommy’s groups is working on fixing that.3yo: Are there dark skinned people in your group, Mommy?M: That’s such a good question! There are a few and we are hoping to have more join us. Because it’s really important for light skinned people to listen and to follow dark skinned people on issues like that.5yo: Light skinned people should follow?M: Yes. We lead by following.
I share this to show that all of our children really are listening and absorbing the messages about race that our actions, our words, and our environments model for them. It is so important to take time to discuss issues around race explicitly when they come up, in age-appropriate ways, and to create opportunities for those issues to come up, through the things we read, celebrate, and watch. Be intentional about making time to have these conversations with your children so they won’t be as awkward and uncomfortable as we are discussing race. And, of course, so they can continue the work of making equality and equity for all a reality.
One of our members sent me information about how Seattle is linking its approach to housing and education. The organization that posted the article, How Housing Matters, which is linked to the Urban Institute, is really fascinating and may have quite a few resources for us as we push our community leaders to be more intentional about the way our county is developing and supporting its residents. Linked from that article is more from the Urban Institute on “Developing Housing and Education Partnerships.” This research can back up members of our group who are willing and able to encourage collaboration at the County level — let’s keep this on our radar!
I’m working on learning more about how school districts elsewhere in the state/country have approached desegregation in their schools, so if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear more about them. We really can learn from efforts that others have undertaken rather than starting from nothing. Let’s see if we can find some model examples.
One of our members let me know that the local Historical Society currently has an exhibit on the history of race in our community up right now at the local Historical Museum. Definitely worth checking out sometime soon.
The local NAACP branch had to reschedule its January meeting to Monday. I think I’ll be able to attend, so if anyone wants to join me, please let me know. The meeting is from 7:00–8:30 pm and all are welcome.
Keep your heads up!
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