Dear City Garden Community,
I write to you all with sadness and anger weighing on my heart, as I am sure they weigh on your hearts as well. On Monday, May 25th, George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer after having been handcuffed and pinned to the ground. His killing is preceded by the killings of several black and brown folks across the country including Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Nina Pop. His killing is also preceded by the incident in New York City’s Central Park where Amy Cooper called the police, falsely saying “…there’s an African-American man threatening my life”, when in fact, Christian Cooper was requesting she leash her dog, as stipulated by park rules.
We have become all too familiar with these narratives playing out as flurries of written opinion, shocking images, and disturbing videos appearing on our social media timelines and screens; all too familiar with the barrage, and then the inevitable stillness and collective amnesia of these cyclical and systemic instances of active and lethal racism. I am horrified and outraged by these killings and injustices, and I want to share my deepest condolences to families, friends, and loved ones of those who have experienced these recent losses.
At City Garden, our children and community imagine and demand a world of justice and possibility. We see Anti-Bias and Antiracism as values that can be actively practiced. We see white supremacy as a system that must be disrupted and dismantled if we ever hope to envision that future of possibility and justice. Through her organization Raising Equity, Dr. Kira Banks, a City Garden parent and founding member of our Parent Action Committee’s Anti-Bias, Antiracism Subcommittee, directed those who are activated by these recent killings and injustices to take meaningful steps. She emphasized that…
- We must teach our children about the system of racism. This means explaining the origins of racism, and how the system of racism perpetuates itself today. Dr. Banks highlights the following as resources with which parents can engage:
- 13th, a documentary analyzing the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom. Suitable for children late elementary school age and older.
- A Young People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn. Also suitable for children late elementary school age and older.
- We Stories – an organization dedicated to engaging white families to change the conversation about and build momentum towards racial equity in St. Louis through books and reading. Suitable for early elementary school age and younger children.
- We must teach our children about the humanity in all people. Black and brown folks are often depicted and understood through stereotypes, that intentionally relegate their humanity. We must show our children the everyday and the exceptional lives and stories of black and brown folks throughout history.
- We must teach our children that they can act now. Each and every human has the power to act and respond. Your child can write a letter to an elected official. Your child can request to speak virtually at the next convening of your local government. Your child can sign a petition demanding that the officers who killed George Floyd are charged with murder.
As we also continue to navigate life through this global health pandemic it can seem daunting and impossible to root ourselves. We must do the work to dismantle structural racism and inequity. We ask that you join us in leveraging your resources and voice to support, advocate, and to engage with one another in dialogue. That collective amnesia and inevitable silence does not have to happen if we refuse to let it happen. We will continue to share resources and tools in the coming weeks and months.
Lastly, in response to these recent killings and injustices, our partners at Forward Through Ferguson recently shared some questions I would like to share with you all. “What policy and practice changes do you want to see made in St. Louis to end this pattern of loss of life and indignity? What values should our systems live into to create thriving and equitable communities for all, rather than just some?”
I am grateful to work towards justice and possibility with all of you, in community.
In partnership and solidarity,