While I certainly commend the efforts made by Roland Park Country School and Gilman in their “Rally Against Racism” (“North Baltimore private school community rallies against racism,” Nov. 7), we shouldn’t wait for youth to wear racially-charged Halloween costumes to speak out against racism in our schools and communities. As community members, parents and educators, we should strive to proactively engage our children in this type of dialogue year-round.
Often the knee-jerk reaction is to shy away from these conversations to avoid moments of discomfort. I’m suggesting we lean into that discomfort, delve a bit more deeply into why this happened and challenge our kids and students to think more critically about this incident and other uncomfortable racial incidents in the news.
We should ask our children why it’s considered comical to dress as certain celebrities, but offensive and distasteful to dress as Freddie Gray. We should discuss why it’s in poor taste to dress as “the border wall,” or as an appropriated culture.
The answers might not be what you’re hoping for. But it’s only through talking about it that change begins to happen. Once we understand students’ thought processes, we can help to break down their perceptions and uproot their biases. If we choose to remain silent, we further reinforce their racial prejudices.
That’s why we challenge everyone within the Loyola School of Education to ask the hard questions and face bias and adversity head on. By engaging in these tough conversations, we’re opening the doors to the types of dialogue that would prevent our youth and students from making similar mistakes in the future.
So let’s keep the door open. Let’s create an environment of open discussion, so that we don’t have to be reactive. Given the recent rise in acts of racial and discriminatory violence against people of color, we should be rallying against racism daily.
Stephanie Flores-Koulish, Baltimore
The writer is director of the curriculum and instruction program at the Loyola University Maryland School of Education.
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