[Lapham-Marquette PTG] Follow up from race to equity discussion - some informal thoughts

Puleo, Simon simon.puleo at hp.com
Mon Apr 28 13:20:36 EDT 2014

I have been reflecting on this thread for the past month and wanted to share some simple thoughts on informal ways we can help provide diversity and equality for our children.

When my family moved from NYC to Madison what I noticed very quickly is that there is very different public playground culture in Madison compared to NYC. In NYC most everyone lives in apartments so it makes sense that a large percentage of people bring their children to public playgrounds.  The playground in NYC is a diverse landscape of children from different backgrounds and races playing together.  Now I recognize that it is not ideal and there is favoritism and some playgrounds are not as mixed as others, but they are public and I was never turned away. My children almost always found other kids to play with and the parents always found some relief on the boundary.

Madison has several playgrounds some of which draw a diverse group of children like Tenney and Villas on weekends.  What I have noted is that a simple way to integrate children is to get our children out of the isolation of our backyards and neighborhoods and bring them to public parks to play on weekends or whenever it is possible.  Just the other day at Tenney park, there were at least 3 different nationalities of kids playing at the playground, speaking non-English languages and wearing different clothing.

I recognize that this is not a formal program of any kind, but encouraging our children to interact in diverse environments can be a stepping stone to equality.  Hope to see you at the playground sometime soon!


From: PTG [mailto:ptg-bounces at lapham-marquette-ptg.org] On Behalf Of Laura McNeill
Sent: Friday, March 21, 2014 2:38 PM
To: Richard Beilfuss
Cc: ptg at lapham-marquette-ptg.org
Subject: Re: [Lapham-Marquette PTG] Follow up from race to equity discussion

Thanks Rich and Carla for continuing this discussion and providing concrete examples.

I wanted to add one more thought/possible inspiration/action... 'Families for Justice' is a local group that meets monthly to discuss these issues and take actions towards racial equity.  They started this Tumblr (think social media mini blog) which asks families to have a conversation about racial equity in Dane County schools with their kids, and articulate why it is important to them, write it on a big piece of paper, take a picture and post it.  It took our family awhile to follow through, but the conversation was really thoughtful - our kids had several life examples for fair/unfair that they connected to, and they did NOT want their friends of different races/cultures to be having any less opportunities - it was very personal for them.  They talked about race very openly.  So check it out...http://ffjdane.wordpress.com/   The website has general information and the tumblr is on the right hand side.  You'll even see a few Lapham/Marquette families.
Thanks for continuing this conversation.


On Wed, Mar 19, 2014 at 5:01 PM, Richard Beilfuss <richbeilfuss at gmail.com<mailto:richbeilfuss at gmail.com>> wrote:
Hi everyone-

After the important presentation about the Race to Equity report by Erica Nelson and Torry Winn last week, someone asked for three things we could do right now to make a difference, given how overwhelming the report, and the problem, is.  I thought some more concrete ideas were needed, so I asked some friends who are deeply involved in this work.  Here is a helpful response from Brian Lavandel (spouse of our very-own Lapham art teacher, Kimberly):

>>There are so many ways we can make a difference. Talking about race and racism with our kids. Volunteering in the schools. Tutoring a kid. Developing relationships with families of color. Exposing our kids to families who are from a different class background. Helping facilitate those relationships. Getting to know a family who has a family member who is incarcerated.   I've been going into the 5th grade classroom at Lowell and reading with a couple of the children who are behind in reading--all children of color. And guess what--it's a blast! I really enjoy them and they seem to be having a good time too.

They also are involved in Big Brothers and Big Sisters, a great program for reaching out to disadvantaged kids.

Best, Rich Beilfuss

Laura McNeill
Local organizer for the White Privilege Conference
"Building Relationships, Strengthening Communities, Seeking Justice"
coming to Madison, WI March 26-29, 2014
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