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We Know Kindness, Inclusion & Love. HFP at the Women’s March on Portland.

HFP parent at women's march in Portland, OR

I was proud to carry a sign, claiming half of my heritage. Muslims are becoming increasingly vilified, scapegoated, and stereotyped  in this country, emboldened by top-down rhetoric. I wanted people to see a person, that for all intents and purposes, looks an awful lot like white privileged class, but who in fact stands to be a victim of Islamophobia. Stereotypes are wrong, hurtful and divisive. By claiming my heritage, in the face of animosity, I’m personalizing the stereotype, and sharing the vulnerability that my family and I stand to be hurt by the onslaught of anti-Muslim propaganda. – Mitra Anoushiravani, HFP President.

Kindness, inclusion and love are at the the core of the best early childhood curriculum.  Early childhood educators teach relationship-building, problem solving and respect. We teach that every classmate is valuable and we make space for varying perspectives, expressions and experiences.  We hold compassion and respect as the foundation for all learning.

Sadly, these basic practices affirming our shared humanity are grossly lacking in the current national leadership. So, when I was invited to speak at the Women’s March Pre-Rally for Children and Families, I knew that I would mirror what I teach in the classroom:

WE KNOW, KINDNESS, INCLUSION & LOVE

Some people say hateful messages.
Sometimes people say hurtful things to people who seem “different.”
But we know, those messages are wrong.
ALL people are important. ALL people belong. ALL people are equal.

Sometimes people say that boys are more important than girls.
But we know, girls are as important as anybody.

Sometimes people say hurtful messages about gender. They tell us we can either be a boy, and act one way, or a girl, and act a completely different way.
But we know, there are many, many ways to be human.

Sometimes people tease and say mean things about being gay or lesbian.
But we know, loving people is a good thing, no matter if you love someone who is the same sex as you, or not.

Sometimes people say that people with dark skin, or black skin, don’t matter as much as people with light skin or white skin.
But we know, Black Lives Matter.

Sometimes people say that immigrants and refugees don’t belong.
They say immigrants and refugees should leave.
But we know, immigrants and refugees belong and we welcome them.

Sometimes people say mean things about people who are Muslim or Jewish.
But we know, that people who are Muslim or Jewish are good people, just like everybody else.

Sometimes people say hurtful things about people with disabilities.
But we know, there are many good ways to be human.

Sometimes people say mean things about people who have little or no money.
But we know, the amount of money someone has– has nothing to do with how important they are.

We have good minds. We think well.
We have strong hearts. We love deeply.
We have powerful voices. We can use our words.

When someone says or does something that is hurtful or mean,
We can say: “No,” “Stop,” or “That’s not fair.”

WE KNOW, KINDNESS, INCLUSION & LOVE.

We know: ALL people are important. ALL people belong. ALL people are equal.

Throughout sharing this speech, I had the privilege of  leading the crowd in three chants: “Black Lives Matter.” “I’m strong. I’m loud. I make my family proud.” “LOVE, not hate. THAT is what makes us great.” Thousands of protesters cheered in solidarity, reminding us that there are millions in agreement with valuing and protecting our shared humanity.

Thanks to Families for Peaceful Protest for orchestrating an entertaining and inspiring rally.

Photos below are of HFP students, parents, alumni, Love 4 Urban Art dancers and participants for “Blank Like A Girl” empowerment piece.
         Image may contain: 1 person, eyeglasses, closeup and outdoor      

            

 

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We Stand for Inclusion, Respect and Love

Justice is what love looks like in public.” – Cornel West

At HFP, we actively teach appreciations for differences. We work to combat prejudice and stereotypes. And we stand up to injustice.

Many in our community are outraged that a person who publicly insults and threatens marginalized groups has been appointed to the country’s highest leadership position. We feel protective of the children, families and people across the country who are even more vulnerable due to the hateful rhetoric and promises of policy changes that would further erode people’s rights and safety.

Earlier this year, Teaching Tolerance produced a video, called “The Lie” in which 4th graders call out the painful prejudices they’ve heard about their own identities. These bold young people speak out against the racist, xenophobic and sexist messages they’ve received. They are not buying it and neither should we.

What can we do to counteract these messages? The following excerpts may help answer that question. Both of them speak loudly to how we, as caregivers, can talk to children about acts of hate and how we, as humans, can take action to combat prejudice.

From Patty Wipfler, Hand In Hand Parenting –

We know that racism, hatred, disrespect, and intimidation are not pro-human behaviors. The majority of voters in the US on November 8th did not endorse those behaviors, but power in this country will be passed to the leaders who did. No matter where we stand on the political spectrum, no matter what policies we advocate, we know that every child deserves respect and love, no matter what their skin color, place of birth, gender, language, or religion.

We need an infusion of respect and caring in our communities to offset the erosion of both in the public forum over the past year or more. So it’s time for us parents to take the power we have, and use it to promote unity, understanding, and compassion in our homes, neighborhoods, and communities.

Explain the election to your children. Basically, many good people on all sides of the political spectrum haven’t been feeling safe. So now it is clear that we need to spend more time building bridges between people. Listening. Making sure there’s a path forward for everyone. It is now clear that this is what we adults must do. And everybody can help. Every family can make a difference.

From What do We Tell the Children? By Ali Michael, Ph.D. –

Tell them bigotry is not a democratic value, and that it will not be tolerated…. Tell them you stand by your Muslim families. Your same-sex parent families. Your gay students. Your Black families. Your female students. Your Mexican families. Your disabled students. Your immigrant families. Your trans students. Your Native students. Tell them you won’t let anyone hurt them or deport them or threaten them without having to contend with you first.

Since an anti-bias curriculum is the heart of the HFP philosophy, here is our commitment to our children and community.

At  HFP we teach kindness, compassion, caring, interconnection and inclusion. 

We Will Continue To:

  • Be gentle, kind and considerate to everyone in our classroom community.
  • Show openness to sharing and hearing perspectives.
  • Support social problem solving.
  • Interrupt hurtful behaviors such as teasing or exclusion.
  • Teach children to stand up for themselves and for others.
  • Boost emotional literacy and self-awareness of our needs and those of our friends.
  • Build appreciations for ways we are similar and different from one another.
  • Welcome curiosity and honest conversations even with “touchy” topics.
  • Read books honoring experiences that are both similar and different from our own.
  • Sing songs about friendship, peace, feelings and love.
  • Nurture critical thinking  and engaged inquiry.
  • Teach affirmations, acceptance and love.
  • Embrace an anti-bias curriculum

Join us in using our power, privilege and spheres of influence to fight against prejudice, bigotry and intolerance. Our impact of striving for social injustice can span generations. Our children and the future beyond are depending on us.