Last Thursday evening, right before I went to bed, I made the decision to view the Eric Garner video for the first time. Since that day, my mind has been spinning and my emotions racing as I witness the onslaught of media coverage and protests across the country.
There is so much that I want to say, shout, discuss, and yet I have never felt more inarticulate. I imagine that many of you are feeling the same way. Processing the troubling issues that the situations in Ferguson and on Staten Island bring up is challenging enough as an adult/parent, let alone for our students. One thought is for certain: it feels like a good time to rely on the strength of our SFS community to process and seek answers.
Already on the calendar for this week is an evening event for 6th and 7th grade parents to discuss diversity, facilitated by our partner and diversity consultant, Alison Park. While the theme for the evening is “How to Talk to Your Kids About Difference,” we plan to bring in the Ferguson and Eric Garner stories as examples, as we adults try to best figure out how to developmentally approach this with our children.
On the student front, our faculty and staff are processing together and sharing curricular ideas on how best to bring some of this to our students. I encourage our teachers to discuss these stories in developmentally appropriate ways—which means mostly with our middle school students. I know that it has already come up in classes and our middle school Amnesty International student group. As we prepare for our school-wide celebrations of Martin Luther King Day and Black History month in the New Year, we are also considering ways to take on this conversation as a larger community.
For now, three words from our school’s Mission are constantly playing in my mind – “Practice Mutual Respect.” My current thinking is that so much of where we are today can be moved forward if we practice mutual respect. While race relations are a national and global issue at large, we can continue to take action with small steps here at 300 Gaven. At school, where appropriate, we will focus on what we can do with our students to facilitate understanding and respect. Furthermore, I hope that the school community can be a safe space for you to process as adults as well- to talk and listen to one another as we all try to move forward.
For more resources and insights, please check out this blog from Alison Park, our presenter this week.