Dear Parents and Guardians,
I hope you are doing well. The work of Beverly Daniel Tatum, prominent psychologist, clearly indicates that children are aware of racial differences and the impact of racism at a very young age. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some resources that may help your middle school students (and maybe you) process and talk about complicated issues such as racism, activism, and social justice.
CNN/Sesame Street Racism Town Hall – This show was broadcasted yesterday, and it offered answers to complex questions related to racism and protest delivered in manners that are accessible to children. Although Sesame Street characters are at the center of the show, the intended audience is not just for young children. It featured prominent leaders and scholars (like the previously mentioned Beverly Tatum) who provided practical advice to parents and caregivers about how to guide children through the complicated events that occurred during the past two weeks. The information and content of the show is appropriate for middle school aged students as well. You may be able to get your teenagers to watch it if you frame it as a way for both of you to take a trip down memory lane to visit with Big Bird and Elmo.
Socialjusticebooks.org – This website offers a collection of both fiction and nonfiction books for children and young adults at various age levels on a variety of topics related to social justice.
I would also like to recommend to you two books I read during the past year that really challenged my thinking about racism and equality. The two titles are included below.
How to be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi – This book really probed my thinking about what is a racist and what needs to be done to dismantle racism and push back against racist ideas. Dr. Kendi was featured in Brene Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast during which he talked about some of the main ideas featured in this book. I included the link to the show here. It is definitely worth a listen.
Raising White Kids by Jennifer Harvey – I am married to a white woman, and we are raising three biracial kids. This book really helped us think through the privileges my children possess by being able to assume a white identity as well as the responsibilities that come with those privileges to promote racial equality. Dr. Harvey was also featured in the aforementioned CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall. She touched on a few of the topics discussed in her book during the show.
I hope you will find these resources to be helpful. Thank you and I wish you all well.
McCall Middle School