Friday, May 29, 2020
Dear City of Lakes Waldorf School Community,
Our hearts are heavy due to the tragic death of George Floyd and the outpouring of grief, anger and despair within our local community. We recognize the great pain that many in our school and our surrounding community are feeling. We also acknowledge those who are being affected by the pursuant upheaval and unrest in the streets of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Many of our families and staff live in South Minneapolis, and have direct connections to the tragedy at the intersection of Chicago Avenue South and 38th Street. Many of our families have experienced the weight of systemic racism and abuse of power that has been a part of our society for so many years. Many others feel the effects of the protests that have taken place in our community.
For all of us, these events come on top of the fear and uncertainty brought about by a global pandemic which has changed all of our lives and the way we gather together. For some, this moment may feel like too much to bear. We are raising our children in a world that is already full of so many unknowns due to Covid-19; now we are experiencing the grief and anger in our community that is a result of living in a world that is short on truth, justice, equality, equity, love and compassion.
As a school whose mission is to educate our students with love and to “encourage children to meet the world with reverence, nobility and authentic action,” we strive to teach our students to care deeply about the world around them and to be champions of justice. Children’s natural abilities to experience reverence for all of life and to have the capacity to discern the truth are nurtured from a young age by an education founded on the ideals of Goodness, Beauty and Truth. The events of this week in our city cause us to believe even more strongly in the necessity to highlight the unfairness in our world and prioritize the work of building an inclusive and equitable school community.
As teachers and staff, we feel the effects of this trauma and we know our families do too. You and your children may be feeling heartbroken, angry, scared, confused – or any number of other intense emotions. While there is no panacea to a hurt like this, which will take substantive societal change to remedy, we would like to offer you some resources to help process these painful events and support your children (see below). It is an important time to talk with young people about race and abuse of power in a developmentally appropriate way. This may be your student’s first conscious encounter with racism and violence, or this may be another event in an overwhelming number. As an adult, being able to listen and witness your child helps create an environment where you welcome wonder, anger, confusion, frustration and thinking aloud. This provides children with the opportunity to identify their feelings, articulate their questions and concerns, and engage in dialogue with others.
In the coming days, we will share additional resources. If your child needs extra support from their class teacher or another trusted adult at CLWS, please reach out to any of us.
While our hearts are burdened by the presence of hatred and injustice in our world and we grieve for all who are suffering, ahead of us there is a path that leads forward. As guardians of our children and future generations, we must be champions of truth. We must kindle hope, engage in hard work, extend kindness and compassion, and persist in the fierce belief in the potential of humanity to heal, to make amends and to right the injustices in our world.
Please know that we are thinking of you as we continue to navigate these unprecedented times together.
Marti Stewart, Administrative Director, and Members of our Diversity Committee
Resources and Recommendations:
In talking with children about this incident and trauma in general:
- Ask young people what they know; acknowledge people are hurting.
- Ask them how they feel about it or what they think about it. If they are younger, they might be only expressing anxiety (about sirens, for example). Let them know that you are there to take care of them. See if there’s some action they want to take or suggest doing something together (light a candle, sing, make a peace mandala with seashells and rocks).
- Spend more time listening than talking.
- Use the same level and amount of words that they use with you.
Resources for coping with difficult times:
- 7 Ways to Calm a Young Brain in Trauma
- Helping Children Through a Difficult Time
- Raising Kids Who Can Cope with Tough Times
Further resources on racism, and how to talk with your children:
- My Grandmother’s Hands: a book by local therapist and advocate Resmaa Menakem about the historical and current trauma between white, black and police bodies. He is currently offering an e-course on his book for free. Directed at adults.
- Beyond the Golden Rule: A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice; a Teaching Tolerance publication.
- This animated reading of the book Something Happened in Our Town talks directly about an incident of police shooting a black man. Parents may wish to watch and draw on the conversations the parents have with their children in this story, about racial injustice and breaking patterns of inequity, or may choose to order this picture book for their family, or to share the video directly with their children if they feel it is age-appropriate.