This week’s verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd is a significant step towards confronting the institutional structures that maintain and condone systemic violence towards people of color. As we work towards a country where all children have an equitable opportunity to thrive, we know there is still a long way to go: Since testimony in the case began in late March, three people a day have died at the hands of law enforcement, including children like Adam Toledo and Ma’Khia Bryant, parents like Daunte Wright and others. As members of the early childhood community, many of us are still processing the pain and hurt caused by watching societal systems continue to fail adults and children of color. Just as one community confronts a killing, another happens.
We know early education and care will play a critical role in helping our communities level the playing field and set a foundation for children to succeed in life. We also recognize that quality early childhood experiences are just one critical piece of the solution and alone won’t fix the formal structures and systems that, in tandem with our country’s history and culture of white supremacy, perpetuate racism and inequities.
But as individuals who interact with, shape and influence these systems, we commit to collectively supporting and partnering with our communities, children and families in healing from this ongoing trauma and dismantling oppressive structures. We will continue to reflect upon the ways in which our own early learning community has, at times, aligned with this systemic violence, including disproportionate expulsion rates for young children of color, enrollment patterns, underpayment of staff and continued segregation. We will continue to work towards centering parent and community voices by honoring their leadership, needs, desires and hopes — for themselves, their families, their communities and our country.
We invite our partners and supporters to help us address these imperatives with passion and urgency, and to hold us accountable on our learning journey. Our efforts to dismantle racism will continue not only in the aftermath of incidences of violence, but as long as the health, development, and well-being of the children and families we partner with and serve are jeopardized by racist systems, practices and behaviors.