It’s a really challenging time to be a child right now.
Many have been confined to their homes away from friends, extended family and the melting pot in general, for more than eight weeks. And now, children are trying to process the horrific images they are seeing up close on television of four people’s unconscionable act upon another. Another human being.
It is not okay that the world we are handing over to our children is filled with such divisiveness; such blatant discrimination that openly even dares to justify its existence. It has to stop. It must be fixed. We all must be a part of the solution.
To begin the healing process, we must first collectively believe and proclaim, without equivocation, that Black Lives Matter. We have failed to openly acknowledge and live this truth to the detriment of too many black people for far too long. We mourn the needless and senseless loss of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Botham Jean and so many others. We must come together now to make deliberate and lasting change, so we don’t lose countless more precious lives to injustice.
Dallas Children’s Theater pledges to do our part to ensure our young black children and their families have every opportunity to freely discover who they are. As an organization focused on children and families, 365 days a year, we know that each one has something amazing to give to the world. As one of the early entry points for many young children to see themselves and others on stage, we take seriously our responsibility to impress positive lifelong inspiration in them. The stories we offer onstage encourage kindness and acceptance, build self-esteem and teach other important life lessons.
The Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) staff comes from many generations, and as storytellers, we have used our stages many times in the last 36 years to talk about heroes like Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman, Marian Anderson, Sojourner Truth, and others to EVERYONE in our audiences. From those beautiful historic pieces, to more current stories as Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters, Snowy Day and Other Stories, Yana Wana’s Legend of the Bluebonnet, and Last Stop on Market Street, it has always been DCT’s intent in this work to give parents the tools to talk to their children about shared values, historic wrongs, and the importance of recognizing and celebrating the many beautiful cultures that comprise and contribute to our world.
But as individuals and as an organization, we can do more. We can do better.
We pledge to do our part to work with our brothers and sisters to reflect and celebrate diversity and equity in our work, on our staff, and on our stages. We pledge to continue to ensure that all children see themselves on our stage and feel the sense of belonging and empowerment that naturally pours out from these transcendent moments. We also promise to use the power of theater to spark conversations about tough topics such as racism; conversations that lead to action, understanding and change.
To our parents, we want to be a resource as you search for help in explaining these heartbreaking headlines to your children. In the absence of one of our beautiful plays on stage right now, we offer links to books and other sites that are specifically focused on talking to children about racism.
Through storytelling, provoking conversation and collaborating with and engaging people of color as part of our artistic and administrative staff, our board and our audiences, Dallas Children’s Theater will play an active role in the dismantling of institutional racism. We owe this to the children we serve who are our foundation, and the foundation of this world.
Read more, learn more, embrace more…
31 Children’s books to support conversations on race, racism and resistance
Local Bookstore: Interabang’s Resources
Anti-Racism For Kids 101: Starting To Talk About Race
National Public Radio: Talking Race With Young Children
Becoming Upended: Teaching and Learning about Race and Racism with Young Children and Their Families
Beyond the Golden Rule
Resources For Talking About Race, Racism And Racialized Violence With Kids
American Psychological Association: Uplifting Youth Through Healthy Communication About Race
How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism
Photos by: DCT staff, Clarice Sayles, Jihad Muhammad, Lawrence Jenkins, and Karen Almond.