Bixby’s mission states, “Bixby School serves preschool through elementary level children and their families in a small community setting that compassionately empowers children with critical thinking skills, self-confidence, independence and a love of learning; develops their individual gifts; and prepares them to make meaningful contributions to the world.” There are many ways to make meaningful contributions, and our students will grow up to do so in their own ways. Indeed, our work is to help them discover that meaning for themselves, and support them on that journey. Recently I have been asking myself, “What would it mean for Bixby to provide that support with a vision of a future world that is anti-racist?” so that no matter what path our students choose, they do so with that shared vision in mind. Our students did not create this world, nor did they choose where or how they were born into it; but they have the power to make meaningful contributions to our world, and we have the opportunity to make them aware of what is possible by their contributions.
We need to talk about race, with each other and with our children. In addition to the interactions you may be having in your personal and professional lives, I would like to invite you to join a conversation with others in the Bixby community. I also encourage you to talk with your children about race, identity and their presence in our society. If you are already having those conversations, please share your experience with others.
Earlier this week, I sent this letter to Bixby faculty. I wanted to share it with you, and also invite you to join the conversation or initiate your own. Here are two opportunities for you to consider.
Join a conversation with others in the Bixby community! This past year we convened a Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee, composed of parents and faculty. The group met only once before the pandemic, and it feels timely to reconvene the committee and identify activities for the upcoming year. I would like to invite anyone who is interested to:
- Participate in the next meeting of the Committee (date and time TBD)
- Join me in reading and discussing the book How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi at 5pm on Tuesday, July 21. If you are interested in joining this book discussion please email me
Talk with your children! A recent study found that too few parents talk with their children about race and social identity. Many of us as parents may be unsure about how to discuss issues of identity, or know when our children may be ready for those conversations. The reality is that our children learn about race and identity every day through our social interactions, media and the world around them. In the absence of conversations, children will form their own opinions based on inadequate information, perceptions and a limited range of experience. In fact, our silence on these topics can communicate as much as our words.
We can choose to help direct and inform what our children learn by having explicit, developmentally appropriate conversations about race and difference with our children. The graphic below is a helpful guide to understanding how to guide and support the natural development of our children’s education about race.
Several organizations have distributed book lists and resources to support parents in discussing issues of race and identity with children. I’ve listed a few below:
- Resources for Talking about Race from the National Museum of African American History
- Resources for Talking about Race, Racism and Racialized Violence with Kids
- How White Parents Can Use Media to Raise Anti-Racist Kids
Do you have resources for speaking with your children that you have found helpful? Please share them with others by adding them to this list.