A LETTER OF APOLOGY FROM THE BCS PTA

 

Dear BCS families,

 

The Beverly Cleary School Parent Teacher Association (BCS PTA) Executive Board writes to acknowledge and apologize for its use of Umpqua Dairy products at the school’s last two Ice Cream Social events. The BCS PTA recognizes that logos that make use of stereotypical imagery of Native Americans -- such as the logo used by Umpqua Dairy -- are degrading, demeaning, and disrespectful to citizens of nearly 600 Native Nations. Further, the Executive Board has chosen to abstain from supporting this company and any other company that utilizes such imagery during PTA sponsored events.

 

We take this public stand in an attempt to mitigate the effects of cultural appropriation on young people in particular. While our students receive some education about the diversity of Native Nations and their respective cultures, the overwhelming representation of Native Peoples is outdated and often through logos and mascots. The Umpqua Diary logo is a good example of this type of representation and there are literally thousands of others.

 

To non-Native people this may not seem like a big deal and may even be seen as honoring Native Americans. To Native peoples throughout the United States, however, these images are stereotypes that 1) perpetuate a sense that Native Americans are a monolithic entity in our society, 2) forward a non-Native mythology that has little to do with Native Peoples or Tribes themselves, and 3) directly affect the self esteem of young Native people by reinforcing misinformation and historical/cultural inaccuracies. The combination of these three issues provide a framework for people and companies to view Native People as mere remnants of the past who have little or no place in the present except as imagery romanticized by non-Natives to help sell products that rarely benefit Native peoples. The BCS PTA Executive Board recognizes its role and chooses to no longer participate in this cycle of commercial stereotyping.

 

We also recognize that even though a public apology is a critical step, it’s not enough to just say “we are sorry.” This issue has helped the Executive Board see some gaps in representation and blind spots in our community interactions. Additionally, we see real value in equity based education as well as in teaching our children and students to be strong allies across as many dimensions as possible. There is always opportunity to learn and grow and we believe we are in a position to model that education and development for our children.

 

Please consider supporting a new effort we are helping to launch for families to be proactive in creating a school community where all people feel they belong and are valued. This new BCS parent group is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee. Its goals are to ensure representation, equity of opportunities, and participation in BCS events and programs; and promote a climate of inclusion for students of diverse race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation and social identities, as well as for those with physical differences (such as hearing, vision or mobility), and invisible differences such as autism, ADHD, dyslexia, asthma, or allergies. We believe in encouraging a sense of community but not at the expense of any community members and that it should be built upon mutual understanding and cohesion for all students, their families, faculty and staff that is inclusive and provides opportunity, access, and educational support.

 

If you are interested in joining this effort, please contact parent volunteer lead Karlyn Clark at karlynsclark@gmail.com.

 

Thank you for taking the time to understand our position, our thinking, and our attempts to better engage the world around us.

 

Sincerely,

 

The BCS PTA Executive Board.

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The BCS PTA is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. All donations are tax deductible to the extent allowable by law. Tax ID# 93-6039340

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