The death of Tony Robinson, and of so many others in Ferguson, Tulsa, North Charleston, Staten Island, Cleveland, and Baltimore raises highly disturbing questions of racial disparities in the United States. For those of us who work with young children we may ask what can I do to help?
Childcare teacher Emily Sonnemann wrote the following reflection shortly after the police shooting of Tony Robinson on March 6, 2015 in Madison, Wisconsin.
What do you do when an unarmed black teenager is shot and killed in your neighborhood?
With sounds of protest drifting in the wind and down the street to my house, I am left wondering how a white childcare provider and mother of young children moves forward.
What can I do to help?
I can mourn.
I can stand in solidarity.
I can teach
I can teach love, peace, justice and kindness.
I can teach being a good neighbor and community member.
I can teach saying hello to the people we meet as we continue to go out into the community.
I can teach real and meaningful conversation with the people we meet on the bus and down the street.
I can teach honesty.
I can teach answers, even to the hard questions.
I can teach questioning even when there aren’t any answers.
I can teach living simply.
I can teach picking up trash, to care for the earth, the neighborhood, and the environment
because it’s all connected to how we treat one another.
I can teach knowing the mail carrier, the grocer, the hardware clerk, the baker all by name.
I can teach living by the golden rule- to love and care for one another, because all of our lives
I can teach conflict resolution.
I can teach collaboration.
I can teach open mindedness.
I can teach tolerance.
I can teach empathy.
I can teach a sense of what’s fair and good and right.
I can take the time to teach this every time
even when there isn’t time
because now is the time
because others don’t have any more time.
Because moving forward starts with even the smallest steps of the children who enter my home each day.
I move forward knowing they are growing up, learning from me.
Someday they will be old enough to be on their own.
I hope that the things I teach them come easy, that these ideas are just a part of who they are
and that this makes a difference.