“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu
The Children’s Treehouse Foundation is an organization that is based on empathy, listening and understanding. As an organization we want to add our voice to those who decry the systemic racism spotlighted, again, by the tragic and inexcusable killing of George Floyd at the hands of white Minneapolis police officers. As we see the outcry of grief and justifiable anger in our community and countless others, we stand in solidarity with those who seek equality and basic human rights for all. Many of our families are black, indigenous, and people of color and we want you to know we stand with you.
But we want to add more than our voice. We ask our community and our supporters to think about what you can do personally to effect change and to make our country a safer place for everyone.
Our program is based on the foundational belief that all feelings are okay and that feelings need to be expressed. We provide tools to help people listen and we advise that by changing our behavior, others’ behavior will change.
- We encourage you to stop and truly listen to people of color – our patients, classmates, neighbors, friends, coworkers. Only then can we begin to seek to understand their lived experiences navigating our current state of systemic racism. The following resources may help parents of all races to talk about inequality and race with their children.
- You can proactively engage your children in conversations by asking questions about what they are seeing, and how they are feeling. Have open and honest conversations as much as possible. Growing up in a systemically racist society, implicit biases may be hard to uncover and admit. Try not to shut down the difficult conversations.
- You can help your children understand and empathize by building an inclusive collection of books, movies, and TV shows. We must acknowledge that our experiences in life are different based on race, and that our differences make us stronger and we can learn from each other’s perspectives.
- Parents can help older children explore credible information to supplement history classes with lessons from influential women, African Americans, indigenous people, and other people of color. We can also help our older children, tweens and teens connect with local advocacy organizations and navigate how to be an active supporter rather than a silent ally.
To borrow from Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, MI, one of our partner hospitals, “Change cannot happen without action and action cannot happen without dialogue and a coming together.” So, we echo the appeal from Jeffco Action Center here in Colorado: “Please join us in taking action. As individuals, we need to find ways to be vulnerable and open to deeper discovery. We can’t be afraid of difficult and uncomfortable conversations and we must have the cultural humility to really listen.”
There are many more actions people can take. Please share your suggestions with us and with those who are eager to make their contribution to change.