The Age of Innocence
Dear GCCA Members,
This photo was taken in a Detroit Montessori school. The photographer had taken hundreds of shots but didn’t feel he had gotten a great one yet. During afternoon storytime, as the photographer silently prayed for something special that he could capture, this little girl laid her head on her friend’s lap. He nonchalantly laid his arm around her. This photo became the full back page of The Detroit News.
As the world has watched in horror, example after example of social injustice has played out before us recently. When a black man can’t go jogging without losing his life, when a black man can’t birdwatch in a park without falsely being accused of threatening a woman’s life, when a dirty cop can smugly press his knee to the neck of a black man pleading for breath, there has to be change. How can we affect change in a world this broken? Through what we do every day, our work with children.
As The Age of Innocence shows, humans are not born racists. Racism is a value system which is taught through learned behaviors which support privilege based on skin color. As early educators and child care providers, we are in the best position to make sure racism is not taught to the children in our care. Teach love & kindness. Teach equality. Teach empowerment to children of color that can afford them the same opportunities granted to others based on privilege alone. Teach all children to be good humans.
To the many black and brown women and men who have dedicated their lives to the profession of early childhood education: We stand with you. We mourn with you and pray with you. We want a world where you feel safe. We want a world where you don’t fear for your children when they leave your home. We want equality for you and we want the phrase ‘social injustice’ to become obsolete. We can’t begin to imagine the depth of your pain, the fear in your heart, or the justifiable anger and rage that has resulted from generations of coping with that pain and fear. But we can show you the compassion you deserve and the support you need.
We will do our part. We will use our voice to affect change. We will support change. Attached to this letter is a list of resources that child care providers can use in their centers. There are ideas for actions you can take to teach love, kindness, and equality to the children in your care. If there are children of color in your care, we have included resources that will help you comfort and guide them through the traumatic events they are experiencing right now.
There shouldn’t be an age of innocence from racism. People of all ages must be innocent from racism.
We stand with you.
Sharon Foster, President Ellen Reynolds, CEO
Suggestions for talking to young children about racism plus books for preschoolers that teach anti-racism
Research-driven data regarding how race is perceived by children birth – five. Plus, a list of additional resources.
Helping preschoolers cope with traumatic events
From the Early Childhood Educators Association, a list of dozens of links to articles, TED talks, YouTube videos and more covering dozens of topics.
Statement to Condemn
Asian Hate from NAEYC Asian Interest Forum in Solidarity with People of Color Caucus
The GCCA has signed on to the following statement by NAEYC in support of our Asian American partners, providers, staff, and families we serve in light of the recent murders here in our own state.
We will continue to work for equity to honor the victims and their families.
It is with a heavy heart that the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Asian Interest Forum (AIF) condemns the tragic murders in Atlanta, Georgia, which resulted in eight deaths, including six Asian women. We stand with the families of the victims and offer our sincere condolences. We share their pain, as we grapple with the truth that such an attack could have happened to any one of us Asian-Americans. In light of these heartbreaking events, we are appalled, angry, and deeply saddened.
This incident is not an isolated one. More than 3,800 anti-Asian hate crimes have been reported in the past year alone, with a significant number of these attacks directed at Asian women. In addition, since many of these incidents never get reported, this statistic is likely a grim underestimate. Harassment and violence against Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) persons, families, and communities have increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to inflammatory rhetoric and anti-Asian xenophobia. We denounce all instances of violence against Asian Americans and stand in solidarity as members and allies of the Asian American community.
It is our duty as early childhood educators to provide space for all children to have honest conversations about racism, discrimination, and bias. We must teach our children to recognize instances of systematic discrimination and institutionalized racism from a young age. It is our job to help children who are witnessing such racism by teaching them to call out the injustices we experience in our communities.
As Asian Americans, we share equal rights with every American in the land of the free. We refuse to be continuously identified as the model minority, and we refuse to stay silent. Hear our anger, our voices, and join us in condemning hatred and violence toward our Asian co-workers, parents, children, and relatives. We must stand up and advocate for one another when ignorance and bigotry threaten members of our community. Let us unite in the fight against Asian hate.
Just a few Resources and Organizations to help reflect, educate, and guide discussions on race and equity: