June 3, 2020
Letter to Damascus ES Community
Damascus Elementary School Community:
This has been a traumatic week for our nation, and I have spent several days reflecting on what to say. Today, I write to you to both reflect on these national tragedies and reaffirm our commitment to the safety and well-being of our students and community. The death of George Floyd, is the latest to bring to the surface the racial inequities that have and continue to impact our society. We tend to believe that young children are unaffected by race. We hear often that children don’t see color and that racism is something that they learn when they are much older. These are falsehoods that continue to propel racism and its ugly outcomes. Research has shown that children can understand race and can develop racial bias as early as six-months old.
Moving forward, Damascus Elementary School is committed to be involved in implicit bias training, Restorative Justice training, cultural competency work, and the design of systems that ensure that all of our students have access to rigorous learning opportunities. This work is not enough and we continue to focus on relationships with all of our students, making sure that, regardless of the color of their skin or how they identify racially or in any other way, they feel safe coming to school. Our beliefs directly align with the message that Dr. Smith sent to the entire MCPS community this weekend. All means ALL.
As a father of three young children, principal to young children, and a person that grew up in a multi-racial family, I share that having these conversations at this age are critical to our students’ understanding of race and its impact on our society. Yes, they can be uncomfortable, but we can collectively broaden the understanding of our children in the hope that the violence we see being perpetuated against human beings can be ended.
Please find a few resources attached to support your conversations with young children at home.
- Sesame Street, “I Love My Hair”
- TED Talk by Beverly Daniel Tatum, “Am I Black Because I Drank Chocolate Milk?”
- National Geographic Article, “Talking to Kids About Race”
- University of Pennsylvania Article, “Talking To Children After Racial Incidents”
- National Association of Independent Schools Article: “What White Children Need to Know About Race”
If your child needs additional comfort or support from the school this week, please do not hesitate to reach out to Mrs. Howard, Mrs. Burton, your child’s teacher, or me. We are all here to help our children and their families process their feelings and questions at this critical time.