“Generations from now when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind–an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time.”—President Barack Obama, 2010
Black Lives Matter.
We want to shout it from the rooftops, chant it from the streets, sing it in our hallways, and lullabye it to our babies until there is no question in anyone’s mind about the value of a life, the human obligation of dignity and respect due to Black people in this country and throughout the world. But it is not enough to verbalize it—we must act on it starting with ourselves. Dr. Montessori insisted on deep reflection on one’s self as a guide. We must do the same.
When my school-age daughter recognizes and acknowledges both that she feels safe when she sees someone in uniform and that the feeling of safety comes from her “white girl privilege,” that is better than not recognizing it, but it does not change the fact that others don’t have that same experience. Being safe and empowered in your home, neighborhood, city, state, country and world should not be a privilege, it is a human right. How do we get there?
We have read and joined in the statements of unity and support, anger, commitment, and recommitment, that have come forth from most every organization in our spheres. This is better than not having statements, but it does not change the fact that heart-felt statements have not added up to the change we need for all children. Not yet.
The killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, cruel deaths in a long history of brutality and murder, have created a movement we cannot allow to dissipate. We can and we must say “Never Again” and we must work to make it so. And, when we do this work publicly, we further catalyze the collective work. Below are steps that NCMPS commits and recommits to in our work to bend the arc of history towards long overdue justice:
- Building a board that represents the racial and ethnic diversity of the communities and children we serve.
- Acknowledging the work of Montessorians of the Global Majority and compensating them for their labor.
- Partnering with Montessorians of the Global Majority at Embracing Equity for anti-bias anti-racist training.
- Through an internal Equity-by-Design team process led by NCMPS’s Race and Equity Specialist, Maati Wafford, creating an equity framework that supports policies, practices, and priorities that are grounded in anti-racism and disrupt white supremacy.
- Seeking input from diverse communities in reviewing tools, trainings, and protocols for bias, racism, and classism, and to check for culturally expansive practices and materials.
- Naming racism and believing the Black experience. We do this by holding each other accountable for manifestations of racism such as implicit bias, microaggressions, and color-blindness.
- Granting paid time off for civic engagement, including for voting on election day.
- Sharing publicly the work we are doing.
NCMPS was founded with the unique mission of serving Montessori education in the public sector, reaching those children most negatively impacted by white supremacy who would not otherwise have access to this type of revolutionary education. However, it is not enough to say “we do Montessori.” We are all, Montessori in her time and we in ours, shaped by the racist systems in which we are raised and socialized. Working hand-in-hand with the communities we serve and in collaboration with people of the Global Majority throughout the Montessori community, we hold our mission to support equitable and accessible public Montessori with introspection, intentionality, and the responsibility to do so as revolutionaries.
Acting Executive Director
With gratitude to Trisha Moquino for her support and review.