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Dear Burbank Families,
We feel strongly, as educators, that it is our responsibility to address race and racism with our students. To accomplish this, we are planning a series of guided discussions we are calling Community Conversations, grounded in pertinent children’s literature. Our goal is to provide some information and opportunities for students to ask questions in the safe environment of school.
We realize all children are at different places in their awareness and understanding of the topic of race. Regardless of your child’s level of awareness, studies have shown that talking with children about race is important, creates positive changes in their behaviors toward others, and is already on their minds. Race is a driving factor in children’s behaviors as early as 3 months of age. When we shy away from the topic, we communicate to children that it is shameful to discuss, which reinforces the ideas that support racist thinking. We intend to be anti-racist.
Bringing these conversations into our classroom encourages our students to critically examine their place in our country’s conceptions of race. By having these conversations as a whole school community, we provide a supportive and safe environment in which to engage in anti-racist work. Along the way, our own prejudices, biases, and privileges will likely result in mistakes and failures. We view these setbacks as we view all of our mistakes: opportunities to reflect upon our shortcomings and do better in the future.
We believe that these conversations are not only for school, but also for home. Once all teachers have shown the videos to their students and engaged in class discussions, the videos we use to begin our Community Conversations will be shared with parents, guardians, and families. We hope that you will watch these again with your child(ren) and have a conversation as a family.
Our first Community Conversation was held the week of February 1st. The linked video and slideshow feature our first book, Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester. The conversations that followed in classrooms centered on the theme of Identity.
Children are our future, and in order to create a more equitable future, we all have to do our part now. A more equitable future for our children depends on more open and honest discussions in the present. While we will falter at times, we are committed to this work, and we invite you to join us.