Black Lives Matter: Statement from the Board

Black power fist with the #BlackLivesMatter underneath it
In conjunction with the Indigenous Solidarity and Sovereignty Officers’ Statement

The murder of Tony McDade at the hands of police officers did not happen in a vacuum.

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of police officers did not happen in a vacuum.

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery at the hands of white vigilantes did not happen in a vacuum.

The murder of Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers did not happen in a vacuum.

These four murders occurred in a span of 3 months, but they are indicative of the systemic racism, oppression, and violence inflicted on Black people in the United States. There are countless stories of Black folks (cis, trans, and non-binary) being murdered at the hands of police and white vigilantes. Some of the names we know. Many more of them, we do not. 

This is not a new problem.

This is 401 years of systemic oppression and the devaluation of Black lives. This oppression and systemic racism is in Montessori – in our schools, our organizations, and in our discourse of the model as a vehicle for peace. It’s fed to our students through the white Eurocentric focus of our teachings. It is honored through the use of “grace and courtesy” to silence outcries of injustice in our schools, our training centers, and our children’s classrooms. And it is ignored through the use of posted solidarity statements but no actual action.

D. Ann Williams, the current Marketing Officer for Montessori for Social Justice, penned the following personal statement on May 28th, 2020 in our Facebook Group. This was in direct response to a request for Montessori peace/social justice quotes and statements that do not acknowledge the current times we live in. She has given us permission to share it as part of our official statement:

There is a problem in Montessori. People use Montessori, generally couched in “we need to have grace and courtesy” and/or using Montessori peace quotes, to gloss over the very real painful/traumatic experiences of our students, our staff, and our families.

 

By asking for Montessori quotes that pertain to SJ or peace education but not wanting to acknowledge the very real lived experience, current history, and entire history of white supremacy, racism, rape, torture and murder of Black people in the US you are actively erasing the truth of this time. 


The United States has a racism problem. The United States has a police brutality problem. The United States was founded on the oppression, rape, murder, and enslavement of Black people.


Stop hiding behind politeness and respectability. As Montessori educators we are tasked with guiding the child and preparing them for the realities of the world. 


The United States is racist. Full stop. The entire police force needs to be overhauled. Full stop. Our schools need to be anti-racist. Our police force needs to be anti-racist. Our government needs to be anti-racist.

 

“In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.” – Angela Davis 

 

If we want peace education then we must be anti-racist.

 

Unapologetically. 

The Montessori community has continually undermined, silenced, pushed-out and stolen labor from Black Montessorians and families. When we see resources being shared, whose voices are truly being uplifted and centered? Whose words/works are cited and whose are not? When Montessori schools and national organizations seek to hire consultants for their newly developed antiracism plans, will they hire and fairly compensate Black Montessorians already doing this work? 

As we move beyond the peace table, let’s remember who first called us to do so: Amelia Allen Sherwood, Britt Hawthorne, and Tiffany M. Jewell

As we call for antiracist Montessori training, let’s remember Rosalyn D. Williams who organized tirelessly to found the first Black-led Montessori training program in 1968 (Sabater, 2019).

As we celebrate Montessori in the Public Sector let’s remember Jacqui Miller, founder of Stonebrook Montessori in Cleveland, Ohio. Let’s remember Dr. Nicole Evans and Faybra Hemphill who modeled what it means to be liberatory school and community leaders. 

As we celebrate Montessori organizations doing antiracism work, let’s remember Iana Philips of MPPI, Dr. Amira Mogaji of AMS, Kalinda Bass-Barlow of AMI/USA, and Maati Wafford of Radiant Mind Solutions consults with NCMPS. 

As we call for more Montessori research, let’s remember Dr. Ayize Sabater, a researcher, consultant and school founder who has challenged us to consider what emancipatory research practices look like. Let’s also remember Dr. Kira Banks, a researcher, speaker, consultant and Montessori parent. 

As we call for more culturally responsive Montessori materials, let’s remember Koren Clark, M.Ed, co-founder of KnowThyself, Inc. Let’s remember Ashley Causey-Golden of Afrocentric Montessori. 

As we call for more language immersion/inclusion, let’s remember Cristina from Montessori Madre and Betsy Romero, ABAR educator and Director of Equity and Engagement for Lee Montessori Public Charter School.

These names are just a fraction of the Black folks who have ignited change, in one form or another, in the Montessori community. Let’s remember who is doing the work, and has been doing the work, long before the rest of the Montessori community woke up. 

The following list is meant to uplift the work of Black or Afro-Latinx Montessorians. Learning from these folks and their work is just the start of your anti-bias/anti-racism journey. When you learn from these people and the resources that they’ve created, attribute that learning to them. Stop contributing to the silencing of Black Montessorians. 

Resources

Folks to follow:

Things to read and watch:

UPDATE [9:00 pm pdt 6/3/20]: In an earlier version of this statement, Cristina’s name was incorrectly spelled as “Christina”.

UPDATE [7:35 pm pdt 6/9/20]: Updated Instagram link for Betsy Romero.