Wednesday evening, January 6th, my 9-year-old son asked as he walked past us watching the news, “What country are the invaders from?”
The fear and anger that brought us to the siege of the Capitol and insurrection by Americans aiming to harm and intimidate their duly-elected representatives has been building for years. I told my kids the truth that these are fellow Americans. They are people who have been fed a steady diet of misinformation, laced with heavy doses of white grievance, which has led them to storm the Capitol. This example of systemic racism is clear, even to young children. They saw the news this summer – Black peaceful protesters exercising their right to assemble met with armed officers in riot gear, noxious gases, and rubber bullets – and the news of Wednesday – armed white people breaking into the people’s house to vandalize, loot, and deface, after insufficient defenses were mounted despite a clear threat of violence.
We at the NC Early Childhood Foundation take a stance of political nonpartisanship. We endeavor to promote understanding, spearhead collaboration, and advance policies that are known to support optimal health and education for every NC child in the context of their families and communities. While nonpartisan, we are not neutral. Americans are battling a raging health pandemic that is impacting young children and their families in a myriad of ways, and for which attention and planning have been sidelined by a federal administration that, instead, incited a violent assault on our legislative leaders and the democratic process. This is wrong.
We, as a nation, have laid so much of the burden of the past year at the feet of our children. They have no choice but to be reliant on a system and policies that have failed them. They have missed school, their friends, celebrations, grandparents, and for too many, they have missed food, faced eviction, lost loved ones, and lost support that was only provided to them in school or early care and education. They have had to endure the devastating effects of toxic misinformation from the mouths of their leaders. They have asked time and time again why Black and Brown people are less valued, in life and in death.
Where are the grown-ups? We must acknowledge the truth if we want to create a better future for young children. The NC Early Childhood Foundation condemns the craven acts of the rioters on January 6th, 2021 at the US Capitol. We must say it plainly and out loud – because the children are watching.
In hope and solidarity,
Muffy Grant, NCECF Executive Director