|Dear Cobb Community,|
As the COVID-19 pandemic has developed, I have continued to remind myself, my family, and our Cobb community that we are all in this together. And, we have done well. We have regrouped and adapted to home learning, come together virtually as a community, and stayed connected. I have been proud of and inspired by the hard work and dedication of our students, teachers, and families. We are fortunate to have the resources and ability to adapt as well as we have; however, we also have a responsibility to engage with, question, and help the greater community.
What do we see when we step back and take an honest look at America? The same pandemic that has caused us to rewrite our routines, set up home offices, worry about masks and gloves, and above all, to avoid contact with others, has highlighted the discrepancy in healthcare access and resources between people of color and white people in this country. It is a clear reminder of this country’s other epidemic: the pervasive and ever-present systemic racism that is a hallmark of our society. The events of the past weeks—the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, just the latest in a line of brutality stretching back centuries—have made it clearer than ever that we are not in fact all in this together.
As an organization and community dedicated to education, we have an opportunity to influence the future generation. We want to believe that teaching our children about grace, courtesy, and peace is enough to instill an anti-racist mindset and guide our students forward. We spend countless hours preparing the classroom environment, modeling respectful behavior, and teaching our students to treat each other with care and love. We celebrate diversity; we talk about privilege; and, we discuss diversity and inclusion often and openly. It is my long-term goal that the Cobb community nurture and cultivate a more diverse and inclusive environment, but this goal is not achieved inclusive to the classroom environment if we are not also intentionally addressing it. If, as the educators of tomorrow’s changemakers, we are not actively engaging in anti-racism education, we are graduating well-intended young people without the skills and the will to act against prejudice.
We cannot expect change from our children without recognizing and dismantling the systems of bias and power that provide privilege to some and injustice to others. We must commit, individually and as a community, to reflect on and grapple with the racism in ourselves, our community, and in our society. Fixing this struggle is not something that we should leave to our children.
To our black students, staff, families, and alumni, I understand that I will never understand your pain, your feelings, and your experience in this country, but I promise never to stop educating myself and our community. I will donate, read, and advocate for a just and equal nation.
To our white and non-black people of color – students, staff, families, and alumni – I encourage you to do the same.
I urge every member of this community to engage in respectful, educated dialogue to further clarify how to be actively anti-racist. If your child has a question or wants to discuss something they heard about in school or on the news, it is your responsibility to put aside your discomfort and talk with them. Learn with them. Learn for them. A list of organizations to support and resources to learn from is included below.
Maria Montessori said, “Establishing lasting peace is the work of education…” This above all is our goal.
Head of School
List of Organizations to Donate to:
Black Visions Collective
Reclaim the Block
Black Lives Matter
George Floyd Memorial FundNorth Star Health Collective
Color of Change
The Bail Project
Books to Read:
How to be Anti-Racist – Ibram X Kendi
Me and White Supremacy – Layla F. Saad
The New Jim Crow – Michelle Alexander
White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo
Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness – Simone Brown
No Mercy Here: Gender, Punishment, and the Making of Jim Crow Modernity – Sarah Haley
Rightlessness and the Criminalization of the Unprotected – Lisa Marie Cacho
Resources to help parents talk to children about race:
Embracerace.org – Resources
We are teacher resource – What teachers are doing to address the protests
Slide show on instagram by a teacher about protests
Read-aloud Books on Youtube
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester
The Colors of Us by Karen Kutz
List of Children’s Books
Children’s Book List for Anti-Racist Activism