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St Louis parents and teachers talk about race with kids

St Louis parents and teachers talk about race with kids

Leslie Scoopmire, seminarian and contributor to Episcopal Café and Danielle (Elle) Dowd, youth missioner for the Diocese of Missouri share how they discuss race with children in class and at home. St Louis Public Radio has the story:

As part of the continued coverage of these issues, St. Louis Pubic Radio, through the Public Insight Network, invited educators and parents to share how they talk about race at home and in school.

PIN_photo_Dowd_101514_0.jpgDanielle and Adam Dowd adopted their daughter, Alice, about a year ago, from Sierra Leone. “My daughter came to the U.S.A. at age 6, and we immediately started talking to her about race. We do not try to hide any information from her. We try to give her as much info as possible and then listen to her, and let her form her own opinions. She finds it all very interesting and often seeks out books from the library to learn more about the civil rights movement,” Dowd wrote.

Dowd works as the youth missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, supporting and overseeing youth groups throughout the diocese. “Many of the youth and youth groups that I work with are very interested in issues of social justice,” she wrote. “When I talk to youth groups and parents, these things come up. As a transracial family, we talk about race at home almost every day.

“I try to give historical context while not relegating racism as ‘history.’ It is something currently happening as well. I also try to explain systematic racism, which is ‘prejudice plus power’ … the power (via representation in media, government, heads of corporations) to carry out those prejudices.” Dowd dismisses the notion of color blindness as a “privilege that people of color do not have.” “Color blindness erases the experiences of people of color and does nothing to dismantle racism, “ she wrote….

Leslie Scoopmire, St. Louis County

PIN_photo_Scoopmire1014.jpg“I have three kids: One is a young adult, 20, at college; one is a senior in high school, 17; and one is a freshman in high school, 14. I also just retired (from the Pattonville School District) after teaching middle and high school for 27 years. “With my own kids, (conversations about race occur) over situations they encounter at school, among their friends, or in the news. With my students, it was in discussing historical situations or the news.

“In history class, I would usually talk about the Civil War amendments (especially equal protection and due process clauses), Reconstruction, etc., and go from there.” Regarding the Brown case, “my son (Scott, 14) and I … talked about white privilege … “We also talked about the common tactic of criminalizing a suspect to justify their death at the hands of the police. We also discussed the two different ways the expectation of due process actually played out in this situation. We also talked about the double standard of rushing to judgment in this case, and that overreacting can inflame a situation.”

“Listen to the young people, and be open and honest. Talk about being aware of presumptions we all bring to the table. Treat kids and young people with respect and encourage examining our own views. Discussions should be conversations, not lectures. Be aware that the words an adult uses are heavier than one may realize, and can have a great impact. Be clear yourself, about your own views and attitudes. Remember that very few situations are clear cut.”

[Photo of Dowd family by Graham Gardner provided by the family.

Photo of Scoopmire family from family.]

ENS has this comprehensive report the Episcopalian presence in Ferguson:

Danielle Dowd was back in front of the Ferguson police department Oct. 15, just two days after being arrested there while protesting the fatal police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown and other African-American youths. Since Brown’s Aug. 9 death, “I’ve come a couple of days every week, except for when my 7-year-old daughter had her tonsils out and I needed to do the mom thing. I’ve been able to form some good relationships with young people, whose voices need to be heard,” Dowd, 26, youth missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, told the Episcopal News Service (ENS).

Similarly, the Rev. Jon Stratton, director of Episcopal Service Corps in the diocese, spent Oct. 13 – his 30th birthday – marching, singing, chanting “Whose streets? Our streets. Whose streets? God’s streets,” and ultimately, being arrested.

They and other Episcopalians were among dozens jailed during a “Moral Monday” action at the Ferguson police department. It was part of a weekend series of acts of civil disobedience across the St. Louis region coordinated by “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” and the Organization for Black Struggle.

Continue reading over at ENS.

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