Let’s Talk About Race – March 14, 2012

This month I would like to take on a subject that can be, for many of us, difficult to confront: race. A variety of ethnicities are present at Beechwood and, for the most part, my observation has been that there is mutual respect amongst the groups represented. But, on occasion, I see and hear things that show me that we are not where we need to be. I think it is time to start talking about how we can progress as a community with regard to relations amongst our various racial groups.

All of us have a role in this process so let’s take a look at what each of us can do.

Principal. That’s me. I believe that my role in this endeavor is to facilitate conversation between families. When there are issues, I need to bring people together to respectfully share their feelings and work towards a solution, rather than “sweep it under the rug” or hope that the problem magically disappears. In addition, I need to raise awareness amongst parents and staff by providing professional development and parent education that focuses on the topic. Lastly, it is my responsibility to see that Beechwood students behave in a way that helps all students feels proud of their race rather than ashamed or inadequate.

Teachers. In order for an instructor to be effective, they need to know each child’s personal story. In getting to know each student, teachers always need to take into account the infl uence that a child’s experiences with regard to race have had on what they bring to the classroom each day. It is not enough to say, “I don’t see color”, we need to go deeper than that and take race into consideration as we build relationships with the kids we teach. In addition, our staff needs to make time to teach about tolerance and build community within their classrooms.

Parents. Above all, parents need to teach tolerance and respect for all races in their homes. Children will be looking to their mothers and fathers for guidance and it is essential that Beechwood families are modeling behaviors that promote the idea that people should never be judged by the color of their skin or country that they come from. Make it a goal for your family to learn about and celebrate the traditions and history of other races as well as your own.

Students. Students need to recognize that they have a responsibility to be the generation that takes racial tolerance and equality to the next level. Their goal should be to make racial slurs, prejudices and stereotypes nothing but a painful memory of our shared history. If they see a classmate displaying tolerance, they should compliment that person. When they are witness to racist behavior, they need to step up by either confronting that person or informing an adult.

It hasn’t been easy for me to write this. I must confess to a fear that in bringing this up, I will create a bigger problem or “open up a can of worms” as they say. In the end, however, I know it is best for us to let our feelings be known rather than keep them pent up inside. I hope that each of you will do what you can to bring the racial groups at Beechwood closer together. I will do my best as well.

-Mr. Laurance