Open Letter to Educators

Dr. Starita Boyce Ansari is a philanthropic advisor, and more importantly the mother 
of a high achieving boy of color attending private school. This heart-wrenching letter 
to educators is a call to action we hope is answered.

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Dear Educators,

The reflection of my soul is in the lyrics of Sam and Dave “When there is something wrong with my baby there is something wrong with me.  And if I know she is worried, I feel the same misery.” Do you feel the misery in our Black children?

Last week our son woke with salty tears drenching his chocolate cheeks.  He was in a state which I have never seen.  I frantically asked what happened. He replied: “When Trump says he wants to make America great again he wants us to go back to the days when people were spitting on Ruby Bridges.”  I froze not knowing what to say.  He continued: “Mommy I am scared.”  I held him tight, not to comfort him, but to calm my fears.  I told him that will never happen.  I witnessed a transformation in my son that I have never seen; as if all the life had been taken out of him.  He wailed:   “It is happening.  We are treated differently.  Nobody is stopping the police from killing us, because nobody cares.”  For the first time as a mum, I felt I could not protect my child the way my parents protected me.

This elementary school boy’s feelings are valid.  Other than Facebook and Google, which corporations are calling for police reform at the level they called for gay marriage and taking their businesses out of North Carolina?  Is my son’s life and the lives of his friends as equally important?  The lone voice of the Governor of Minnesota is not enough to change the fact that unarmed Black men are seven times more likely than unarmed White men to die from police shootings.  Thus, the heart, mind and soul of a little boy wails; because American Jews, Christians and Muslims are not coming together for American Blacks they way they came together for South African Blacks in 1985. Do you see the misery in our children?

I shared our son’s grief with my Black friends who have school-aged children ranging from elementary to college. Their children have experienced nightmares, anger, sorrow, low self-esteem, depression, etc.  Black children are experiencing PTSD. In 2015, police killed 102 unarmed Black people.  Twice a week the students in your classrooms are learning that an unarmed Black person, who is likely not attacking the police and looks like them, their mother, father, cousin etc. is murdered by the police.   Twice per week your students may not be grasping your lesson, because another Black person became a hashtag.

Dear educator, you see the misery in your Black students.  Right now, they need more than science and language arts to excel.  From elementary to higher education, students need compassion and civic engagement.  They need the compassion of their classmates and teachers/professors to help them feel safe and valued, and not isolated. Our children need your empathy and that of their fellow classmates. Devoid of the embrace from their place of learning, they cannot achieve their fullest potential.  Begin the conversation, because you too feel their misery.

We are becoming a nation of hate and fear; fueled by Trump’s deadly us versus them rhetoric.  We cannot return to the days of people spitting on Ruby Bridges, because she didn’t look like them.  It is time for our schools and universities to go beyond volunteerism and incorporate civic engagement. When students donate their time, talents and treasures to communities they become more than civically engaged, they become civically responsible and better listeners to the community.  They begin building relations across race, religion and gender to make America a better place not for self; but for all.  The best way to achieve this is through Giving Circles.  Giving Circles allow students to respond to community needs by donating their time, talents and treasures. Instead of applying work-study dollars to volunteerism or hosting a day of service for your first graders or freshmen, ask your students how they want to make the world a better place or what in America makes them sad.  Join them in making the world a better place by building a culture of philanthropy and citizenship through a Giving Circle.  America needs compassion.

So, two weeks after the realities of the United States permanently scared the joys and innocence of our son’s childhood, as has been done to countless other Black children, he snapped his backpack across his chest and began singing “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around”. I asked him where did he learn that freedom song?  He proudly responded: “In School!”  I smiled, because through compassion and empathy his school is shining a light of confidence and hope into Black gentlemen, who always have been perceived as “Bad Dudes”.  They feel his misery. “When there is something wrong with my baby there is something wrong with me.”

Dear educator, tomorrow morning when you brush your teeth think of Michael Jackson’s message to us “starting with the man in the mirror…. If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make that change.”  #blacklivesmatter

 

M. Starita Boyce Ansari, Ph.D.

Chief Change Officer

MSBphilanthropy Advisors, LLC

 

* for more information on giving circles…

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how to do it.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Bonnie J. Caracciolo
    Posted October 5, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    Crushing. Is this what ‘we’ have done to our children? Is this what ‘white supremacy’ has caused in this, the 21st century? Is our (white folks) complete and utter misunderstanding of the plight of this and presumably so, so many black children- intentional? Is it ‘misunderstanding’ or willful denial?

    Now I understand what it means when my friends, the mothers of black and brown children- especially boys- tell me they fear for their child’s life each time they walk out the door.

    If one person’s privilege denies another person’s freedom… are we free? Are we truly free? No.
    I get it. God help us.

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