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.