How to talk to your students about social justice and race relations

7/15/2016

Like the rest of the nation and world, we at JPEF have been witnessing the events of the past week with heavy hearts and much on our minds. The tragedy in Dallas, preceded by incidents of police violence in Minnesota and Louisiana have weighed heavily on each of us and impacted our day-to-day lives as we’ve tried to navigate our feelings on this sensitive topic as well as the constant influx of media reporting. As an organization focused on improving the lives and educational outcomes for students in Duval county, it only follows that our thoughts quickly turned to our youth in the city. They too have no doubt been inundated with news of these events and have been engaged in conversations with their peers, teachers and parents about what all of this means for our nation and for themselves.

Teachers and parents may also be sifting through the noise in search of tangible ways that they can have honest, difficult conversations with their students and children about issues of social justice and race relations in this climate. These are not easy topics for the most seasoned among us. Yet, they are topics that we must address head on and have healthy dialogue about, particularly with young people. Regardless of their racial background, the students in our schools are affected by the national narrative of racial inequity and how that inequity can play out in law enforcement practices. Our role as the adults in their lives is to provide safe spaces where they can talk through their own experiences, observations and feelings in a productive way that results in greater understanding and empathy.

We have compiled some resources for educators and parents to use when engaging with their students. These tools help to provide the factual data to inform the conversation, but also context and tangible examples of how they can impact the change that they wish to see. We are at a crucial point in our history and these voices are the ones that will determine the direction of our collective futures. The question should not be if to have the conversation, but how. And we hope that these resources will be a step in the direction towards that answer.

Resources: 

 

Beyond Integration: How Teachers Can Encourage Cross-Racial Friendships

Leading Educators' Statement on the Connection Between Teacher Leadership & Race in America

Editorial: How to Discuss Wrongful Deaths of Black People With Our Youth

Talking to Kids About Racism and Justice: a list for parents, caregivers & educators

Teaching Tolerance

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