Dear Lawrence Families,
This week the US celebrates Thanksgiving. This tradition goes back to President Washington when he set aside November 26, 1789 as the first nationwide celebration of Thanksgiving. For me it is a time to reconnect with family and give thanks for the good things in our lives. However, as with some traditions, there are other viewpoints. Some Native Americans consider Thanksgiving to be a Day of Mourning and they celebrate a day in March for which they give thanks. It is in this spirit of giving thanks that I wish you all the best this week and a very Happy Thanksgiving whenever you might celebrate it!
Breaking the Cycle of Racism
The Public Schools of Brookline staff attended a presentation from Beverly Daniel Tatum on November 8 on Breaking the Cycle of Racism . We had a fantastic day with lots of energy. As you can see by the Thanksgiving example above there can be subtle ways of viewing events and interactions from varying cultural perspectives and in differing ways. I’m not advocating that we should not celebrate Thanksgiving, but only making the point that this day means different things to different people. By trying to see different perspectives and accepting other perspectives we can be more inclusive and respectful. We can celebrate Thanksgiving and note that some view this day differently. All cultures have beliefs and views on giving thanks and what may at first appear to be divisive can also unite us.
Here are some key points that were made by Dr. Tatum.
Our early years are highly correlated with how we view and understand our world. This includes our family structure, the communities we live in and the schools and faith institutions we attend. This can include misinformation or information that is not true. Exposure to the world differs for all children and as they hear and learn from their environment they begin to view the world in many different ways. How children are exposed to politics, the media, jokes by their favorite uncle, dinner time discussions, music, etc. are all ways that contribute in developing varying viewpoints. The country and geographic area children live in also impacts their beliefs.
These beliefs are internalized and reinforced. We all participate in this and the cycle of racism continues to exist. To break the cycle we must create dissonance and use the strength and challenge of our experiences. We must pay attention to the assumption of Language. We have been explicitly or implicitly “taught” not to talk about race as it can be uncomfortable based on our experiences. These systems are always operating and systemically there are advantages for some races and disadvantages for others. This is not our fault but it is our responsibility. The cycle of racism CAN be interrupted. There is lots we can do.
At Lawrence we start to break the cycle of racism when we create and protect our “Safe, Just, and Caring”Community. We have started having these courageous conversations at Lawrence between staff members. When there are opportunities for us to address issues with our students we will and with grade appropriate language.
In these conversations we will make mistakes, and we will keep at it. I also want to acknowledge that I am not an expert and I am a bit worried about your reaction to this article. It’s a chance I’m willing to take. I have watched race relations in the US for many years. I’ve seen progress and I’ve seen regression. I strongly believe we need to keep moving forward to break the cycle of racism. We encourage you to begin to have courageous conversations about race and to discuss the above as it fits best for your family. Let’s try to break the cycle of racism together.
Next time I will add some more thoughts from Dr. Tatum.
Wednesday, November 23 – noon Dismissal for Thanksgiving – All students
Thursday, November 24 and Friday November 25 – No School – Thanksgiving Break
Tuesday, November 29 – 8:00-9:00am – PTO and a presentation from our Math Specialists on “Daily Math With Your Child”. Parents of all ages are welcome to attend! Come join us for a conversation about making the most of the math around you everyday!
Wednesday, November 30 – K-8 Dismissal at 12:40 for Conferences
Thursday, December 1- K-8 Evening Conferences by teacher appointment
Monday, December 5 – PTO Phone-a-Thon Fundraiser
Tuesday, December 6 – 8:00-9:00 School Council – Library
Wednesday, December 6 – 12:40 Dismissal, K-8 – Movie Day
“You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” Jim Rome