To Members and Friends of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute Community:
For too long our nation has shown an unjustifiable bias against children, families, and others based on their race, religion, and origin. Our nation has outraged and disappointed too many of us. It has not lived up to its promise of freedom and security for all.
For young children to thrive, trust, safety, and security are crucial. The first responsibility of every parent, teacher, caregiver, and responsible citizen is to keep kids safe. Our nation is not fulfilling this responsibility when George Floyd of Minnesota or Eric Garner of New York are choked to death by police or James Scurlock of Omaha dies in the street. How many children watched as these horrifying events played again and again in the media? How many children learned to fear the police after witnessing these catastrophic events? What goes through the minds of children—both of color and not—when they see Ahmaud Arbery hunted down and shot to death in cold blood? How much terror and confusion do Black boys endure when they are targeted by those nominally responsible for protecting them? How many parents of young African-American men feel fear every time their young people go out on the street? How many children have been forced to watch their parents humiliated and punished, not because of something they’ve done, but because they don’t understand the language being spoken to them by those in positions of power?
After every well-publicized act of outrage, it is easy to assume that, as a nation, we will finally learn and the madness will cease. But it doesn’t. The plague of racialism remains, one of several plagues we are enduring. We are in the midst of the worst pandemic the world has seen in over a century, one that disproportionately affects people of color. We erect walls at our borders and regularly remove children from their families who are seeking asylum—a safe place—imprisoning them in brutal facilities behind tall fences. And we order police and other “peacekeepers” to attack protesters, no matter how peaceful they are and no matter whether or not they brought their children with them to experience the American right of free assembly.
These plagues are all marked by the same features: fear, illness, suspicion, isolation, and despair. In time, they begin to merge with one another, leaving us passive and emotionally exhausted.
We cannot allow this to happen. We can no longer tolerate inequities and injustice. We must become reliable allies, allies whom those in need can turn to and trust. We must also be ready to step back, listen, and learn to show our support by recognizing the leadership of those who bear the heaviest burden of discrimination, inequity, and abuse.
The Buffett Early Childhood Institute is deeply committed to justice for all. Our mission revolves around helping children and families and strengthening the societies in which they live. Children and families cannot thrive when individuals or groups are unfairly treated and denied opportunity based on race, culture, language, or religion. We are committed to change. Our children deserve no less.
Samuel J. Meisels
Founding Executive Director