This week we witnessed yet another horrific act of violence against a Black man —the shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed 29-year-old father, by a White police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In the days following the shooting, a White vigilante shot and killed two protesters in Kenosha, while police present at the protest allowed him to walk away. The stark disparity of the treatment of these two men at the hands of police provides a clear example of systemic racism in policing.
Jacob Blake is the latest in an unacceptably long list of names of Black individuals who have become victims of police brutality. Black lives matter, and Jacob Blake’s life matters. However, his life and the lives of his family will never be the same. Jacob Blake will likely never walk again, and three of his children will suffer the long-term impact of witnessing this act of racial violence against their father.
As an early education organization, Jumpstart is acutely aware that racial trauma harms the development and well-being of young children. All adults have a critical role to play in anti-racism education and helping children develop positive racial identities. Jumpstart’s program—grounded in culturally competent, developmentally appropriate practices—prioritizes creating an environment in which children feel safe, valued, respected, seen, and heard.
But we cannot make lasting progress towards our vision—a world where every child enters kindergarten prepared to succeed—without understanding, acknowledging, and working to dismantle the systems and structures that continue to hold racism in place. This most recent incident of racial violence highlights the need for all of us to stay focused, active, and vocal. Our role as a leader in early education offers us the platform and privilege to speak up and act for racial justice.
I encourage you to use your voice to speak out and demand change. We speak with our voices and with our votes. As we move into the fall, we all have a pivotal opportunity to choose who will represent us—in our own local communities and in federal offices. These elected officials will be making decisions about critical issues that affect racial justice and education, particularly as children around the country enter the new academic year amidst a global pandemic.
Now is the time to educate yourself about where political candidates stand on issues that matter to you. To learn more and get ready for election season, visit vote411.org—you can check your voter registration status, register to vote, and learn what’s on your ballot. For more resources about supporting children suffering from trauma, visit NAEYC’s page.
President & CEO