Kindness is more than coffee. Trust me, I adore a little recognition and love sent my way from friends or even strangers. I mean who doesn’t? However, this only goes so far. I have been sick, tired, infuriated, and horrified by the recent mass shootings in this country for quite some time now; but, I am not shocked. It’s no surprise to me anymore that we offer "thoughts and prayers" and move on. It’s not shocking that we automatically jump to the conclusion that whenever a white male terrorist executes these heinous crimes he must have had mental health issues. Yet, we hide behind the clear issue at hand; an issue that has oppressed Black and Brown people in this country for far too long: racism.
Please know that I take mental health very seriously and strongly believe in the benefits of receiving mental health services. I advocate for this especially considering how much it has effected my own life. But, for the moment I’d like to talk about something that clearly is playing a leading role in the danger and sadness of this country that often isn't at the forefront of discussion. Let me say that one more time for those of you who may think I don't take both seriously: I recognize and appreciate the effort to increase awareness about the importance of mental health; I only wish we would offer the same passion when it comes to racism. We are all too afraid to even bring up race, let alone take the time to read, learn, and make an actual attempt at being kind to one another. Because the true act of being kind is more than simply being nice. Kindness is taking the time to understand, accept, and love other cultures. It’s amplifying the voices of BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color). Kindness is instituting real change in this country to ensure the safety of our future. But how do we go about this change? For me, I’ve come to terms with the idea that it is my duty as an educator to develop a classroom that is all-inclusive. A safe space that welcomes all children and teaches them empathy, acceptance, and tolerance. As of two years ago, I moved to a school that is predominately white and now, more than ever, I feel the need to include an anti-bias curriculum in my room. All children, especially white children, need to understand true history to become productive humanitarians that will institute change. They need to know that Christopher Columbus wasn’t the kind man who discovered America that he is made out to be. Yet, teachers all over America continue to dress children up at Thanksgiving as “Pilgrims and Indians”, sitting down to have a friendly meal. This is harmful. Children need to read, hear, and see BIPOC in heroic roles other than in the middle of January when you jam in a small unit of Martin Luther King, Jr. If that is the only African American leader that children learn about in school, yet see images on the news every day that vilifies people of color, the world will only become more hateful and continue to amplify the ideologies of white supremacy.
This is a crisis and I will refuse to be silent. And this message is not simply for educators. Although our job is very important to the growth of this country, we are not the only ones who need to do the work. Recently I thought a lot about what it means to be a mom. Our role is to love, nurture, and teach our children well. And my role as a White mother is very different from that of Black and Brown moms. I will never have to tell my daughter to fear her life when being pulled over (trust me, I was pulled over more than 25 times during my teen years and it wasn’t always in the best of situations. Never once did I receive anything more than a speeding ticket). I will not have to tell her that people may cross the street when they see her coming. She will never be followed in a store by an employee afraid that she may take something. Please know that I am not making the argument that my daughter will not face any hardships in her life, that would be illogical. I am, however, recognizing the privilege that will be innately provided to her from the very moment she is born. I plan on making sure she recognizes that. She will love fiercely, understand history, and be kind. This is our wish for her and it’s our job to make this happen. So please continue to love your friends and buy them that cup of coffee because we could all use a little pick me up; however, know that there is still more to do. The time is now.
We have included some amazing organizations below that are looking to spread love, equality, and change.