A Note from our Co-President, Heather Rogers:
My dad was a coach on the bench of what became a monumental, although often forgotten, basketball game for the Civil Rights Movement. (You can read the full story here.) A simple handshake between two teams, Mississippi State and Loyola - two teams that weren’t supposed to be playing each other - was a small but powerful statement at the time. My dad played for Mississippi State for the previous four years, prior to this game and prior to becoming a coach, and was never allowed to play in the NCAA tournament due to a Mississippi rule that forbade state schools from playing against integrated teams. That game in March of 1963, where the team and coaches disregarded the status quo, and risked everything to sneak out of state for a fair game of basketball, was one of many progressive instances during the Civil Rights Movement that shaped who my dad is, and ultimately who I became and how I have raised my family.
My Dad (far right corner, top row),J.D. Gammel, assistant coach on the 1963 Mississippi State Team
It’s disheartening to see where we are as a nation today. I’m heartbroken to witness the violence and injustice that has rocked our country from coast to coast. I wish it wasn’t happening and that the necessary and overdue changes in our nation could occur without this trauma. I wish as a society we were already further along. We all know wishing won’t change anything, but we can recognize that we have the ability create change, even if simply through words.
As a community largely comprised of educators and parents, we have an opportunity and an obligation to have the difficult conversations with our students and our children. These young people are the future of our country and if we do not take a moment to have age-appropriate conversations about the history of race and race relations and how it impacts us all today, we will have not only failed our children but also our nation. It is OK to feel uncomfortable…what is most important is that we start talking, with our children, and with each other. Kindness and a message of inclusion and compassion delivered now can be carried forward for a lifetime of the next generation and for generations to come.
Here’s a start from the American Academy of Pediatrics’ parent website, HealthyChildren.org: https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/emotional-wellness/Building-Resilience/Pages/Talking-to-Children-About-Racial-Bias.aspx
Please take care and keep talking with each other,
How can I start these conversations with my children or students?
These resources are to help us have these important, but sometimes hard, conversations with children.
- Children's books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance - https://www.embracerace.org/resources/26-childrens-books-to-support-conversations-on-race-racism-resistance
- Anti-Bias education for schools and communities - https://www.adl.org/what-we-do/promote-respect/anti-bias
- Teaching young children about race - https://www.teachingforchange.org/teaching-about-race
- Mister Rogers talked to us honestly about difficult subjects - https://www.misterrogers.org/articles/he-talked-to-us-honestly-about-difficult-subjects/
- Things to keep in mind when talking to kids about tough subjects - https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2019/01/14/things-keep-mind-when-talking-kids-about-tough-subjects/
- Diversity & Inclusion Expert offering recommendations on diverse books, educational products and how to raise curious kids - https://www.instagram.com/hereweeread/?hl=en
- Parenting and Education through a Critical Race Lens - https://www.instagram.com/theconsciouskid/?hl=en
- The First Name Basis Podcast: giving parents the tools they need to teach their children about race, religion, and culture - https://www.instagram.com/firstname.basis/?hl=en