Over the past few days, the COVID-19 pandemic lost its primacy in our collective consciousness, crowded out by the distressingly familiar images of racial intolerance, violence, and bigotry - in New York City and Minneapolis most recently - and the reactions they have provoked. Seeing yet again the terrible brutality against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, that continues to occur in our country leaves me grasping impotently for the language to express the upset and frustration I’m feeling. I’m sure that many of you feel the same way.
It seems critically important to me to acknowledge that the burden of the emotions provoked by these atrocities falls disproportionately on those who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. My outrage, while it may feel visceral to me, does not begin to approximate the physical and emotional pain that these communities experience when incidents like these remind them of their - and their loved ones’ - vulnerability to violence from their fellow citizens or, even more disturbingly, from the police officers who are meant to protect them. To those members of our community who carry this added weight, I want you to know that I and others are holding you in the Light.
We all have much to reckon with as we consider these latest in a long line of injustices and decide how we are compelled to respond to them. One thing is clear; there is work to be done at every level of our society - including in our own school community - to disrupt the underlying systems and forces that make possible these horrific acts of violence and oppression. If we truly hope for our children to live in a more just and equitable world, indifference and inaction are not an option.
As we have, as educators, struggled to come to grips with these events, several of my colleagues on campus, as well as others in the wider world of education, have shared resources that offer the opportunity to move from the feelings of helplessness and paralysis we may be experiencing towards concerted and effective action. The National Network of Schools in Partnership, for example, offered the following links:
Anti-racism Resources for White People: a compilation of resources for white people and parents to deepen our work in anti-racism. (bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES) Array Now: Started by Ava DuVernay, director of Now They See Us, this is a compilation of African American independent films- an array of stories and voices. (http://www.arraynow.com/) NNSP also highlighted the opportunity, being hosted by Brooklyn Friends School, for students, parents, and teachers alike to hear from Ahmaud Auberry's mother, Wanda Cooper-Jones as well as the organizers of the #irunwithmaud movement. More information on this program is available at this link (https://brooklynfriends.org/justiceforahmaud/). I encourage you, in whatever ways are appropriate, given the ages of your children, to discuss these painful but important topics with the young people in your lives. The American Psychiatric Association offers as a resource these tips (https://www.apa.org/topics/talking-children) for engaging in conversations around challenging topics and events with children.
We all hope for a day when our country can be free of the curse of racial injustice. What we must do now is consider our roles as individuals within a system that is fundamentally unjust for millions of people in America. Each of us needs to ask what changes we are capable of making to that system to bring about the better future we want to see, and then set about making those changes.
As a school, we will continue to look for ways to help all the members of our community process the overwhelming emotions of this time and come together to combat and disrupt racism. Stay tuned for updates on how we are pulling together to keep this critical work moving forward.