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Park Day School stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter around the world and at home in Oakland. We stand with all people who work towards the end of white supremacy and racism in all of its forms. As a private school, we are committed to the continuous work of unpacking the historical layers of our inherent whiteness and inequity in order to grow a community that honors intersectional black histories and identities.
It is our obligation as educators to utilize our partnership with families and community to reach, teach, and hold our students. Children of all ages are exposed to racism all of the time, whether or not we’ve put a label on it for them. They hear racist comments, and they see injustice. Giving our students the tools and vocabulary they need to recognize racism and speak up about it will help empower the next generation to be action oriented and a part of the solution.
Seeing and supporting our BIPOC community members is at the forefront of our responsibility. We are here to humbly listen, learn and affirm. For our white community members, we are here to challenge our inherent biases and use our individual and collective power and privilege to create an equitable, inclusive community that fearlessly acknowledges our dark past and contributes to a future free of racial injustice. BIPOC families do not have the luxury of *not* talking about race with their children. This responsibility falls on us all. Many of the educational resources below address how to talk about race and racism with white children and we urge parents to use them.
Here are some community resources compiled in collaboration with staff and Park Day alumni and current families.
June 5, 2020
Dear Park Day Families,
The last time I formally addressed this community back in October immediately following my appointment, my message was full of excitement, gratitude, and hope. Almost eight full months have passed and during that time, the world has completely changed. Against the backdrop of a worldwide pandemic, our nation is literally erupting with collective pain, frustration, and rage. My message now is that we have to meet our present moment.
Like so many, I have been grappling for the last two weeks with this most recent lynching of an unarmed black man at the hands of a police officer. Watching the video of George Floyd’s last moments on this earth impacted me at a cellular level. He could have easily been my husband, my cousin, my nephew, or even me. For me, this is not an intellectual exercise.
As a black woman working in predominantly white spaces, I have been struggling with how to grieve, how to varnish my anger, how to lead, and how not to allow myself to slip into despair. Aside from my deep faith, the thing that is keeping me focused is that in my role as an educator. I get to touch the future through every teacher and student I impact. Citizens across this country are protesting not only the death of George Floyd but police killings of black and brown men over the course of centuries and true to form, it is young people who are taking the lead.
In less than 30 days, I will have the honor and privilege of leading Park Day. While I am still full of excitement, gratitude, and hope, there will be a lot on our collective shoulders. We will have to start the school year with health and safety protocols that will change how we exist in community. We will have to lean into the Park Day promise to “prepare students to be informed, courageous, and compassionate people who shape a more equitable and sustainable world” by deepening our social justice focus on systemic racism and activism even for our youngest learners. Nimbleness and agility with delivering a quality Park Day education whether live or remote will be key.
I have appreciated the thoughtfulness and foresight of Erik and the Board of Trustees who activated an early transition process for me which started back in late March. I feel confident in a smooth “passing of the baton” come July 1 because of the dedicated educators, engaged students, and passionate parents and guardians of Park Day.
I am looking forward to getting to know you and your hopes and dreams for Park Day as we start this first year together. I wish your families a safe and restorative summer.
While many of these links take you to Powell’s, we urge you to order these books from black owned bookstores like Marcus Books in Oakland.