June 4th, 2020
In our message shared last week, the WRDSB recognized the need to action our commitment to confronting anti-Black racism in our board. We acknowledge that we have much work to do, and we understand we need to do better. We know that when we messaged on Friday we indicated that we would be sharing resources and supports during the early part of this week. Please understand that we were taking the time to fully consider what our Black allyship needs to look like. This is also why we as a Board could not, with any integrity, participate in the social media trending hashtag #BlackOutTuesday. We know we have a lot of work to do, and performing our anti-racism, specifically, anti-Black racism, work via social media, without having done the actual work, would be highly problematic. We recognize our work needs to be deeply rooted in all that we do, and cannot be performative or superficial allyship.
While we are in the middle of what the United Nations has declared the ‘International Decade for the People of African Descent’, anti-Black racism still remains a worldwide issue. It remains a Canadian reality, and we know that racism exists in the WRDSB. We have no intention of denying this and we have been working to rectify this. Our students have shared their views through their digital story video and our staff have shared this through their requests for support from the Equity Working Team. In addition, our community has shared this through their critical questions and continued engagement.
We recognize that the news coverage is impacting each of our lives differently. For our African, Caribbean and Black (ACB) staff and students the events are inducing, or exacerbating, trauma that already exists.
Please find a curated, but not exhaustive, list of resources below to continue learning, and to begin actioning anti-racism work at home.
These resources have been selected through ongoing collaboration between the Human Rights and Equity team, the Mental Health and Wellness team, Social Workers, and Child and Youth Workers of the WRDSB. These resources can support conversations with each other and facilitate these critical discussions with children and young people.
The work needed to dismantle anti-Black racism is complicated, and differentiated depending on our own identities, and it will require us to be committed to supporting and holding each other accountable. We will continue our commitments, which include ongoing collaboration with our Black Brilliance Advisory Group, and our Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group, along with continuously looking to cultivate and foster relationships with our ACB students, staff, and community. We also commit to examining and dismantling our own systemic racism. We will continue to share our journey of allyship, the ups and the downs, so that we can remain accountable and steadfast in our work to combat anti-Black racism.
Before we begin these conversations, however, Britt Hawthorne, author of Anti Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves, suggests the following questions to ask ourselves before we open up the dialogue with children and young people:
- What is your earliest memory of noticing people with different skin tones, eye shapes, hair texture and hair colour?
- Did you have any adults that helped you think about human differences?
- What messages did you receive directly or indirectly about differences? This could be from friends, family, media, etc.
Resources for Caregivers
Experts say that as soon as children can distinguish colours, it is appropriate to have conversations about skin colour and people’s visible differences.
Talking Race With Young Children – Written to help educators and families talk with young children about race
Your Kids Aren’t Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup – Provides links to numerous resources for educators and families including podcasts, lists of picture books and professional reading titles, and articles
Teaching Tolerance; Going Beyond the Golden Rule – Written for caregivers to help begin having important discussions around prejudice and tolerance
Should you require additional supports in talking with children at home, please reach out to your school administrator for direction, support and/or referrals.