We are caught in an inescapable network of
mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.
Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Letter from Birmingham Jail
Dear Crossroads College Preparatory School Community:
The city is our campus. I think about this often and what it means to live and learn and work in St. Louis at this particular time. In his “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King wrote about a “network of mutuality” and the “interrelatedness of all communities.” This is particularly relevant to Crossroads given the forty-eight zip codes from which our students come and all the valuable differences we represent. So when I spoke Monday morning at announcements, I wanted to recognize that we are in the midst of a difficult and unpredictable time for our city.
As a way of preparing to respond, I reminded us – students, faculty, and staff – that at Crossroads we can be ourselves and that we are responsible for developing habits of empathy for others who are moving through the world as themselves as well; I reminded us that at Crossroads everyone has a voice and that there must also be a commitment to listening; and I reminded us that we will work to listen to each other and to try to understand how we are affected by actions and decisions made by those we do not know and those whose experiences are different from our own. As always, I was impressed by our students’ listening, by the intense expressions on their faces, and by the applause-as-affirmation for who we are.
I hope that every school in St. Louis is grappling with how to respond to current events in St. Louis, to abuses of power, and to systems of oppression. I think about ways in which Crossroads might respond. As I grapple with this, though, I feel strongly that my response to situations likes those represented by Ferguson must be to attend to our students first. So I make time to check in with our students, to ask them how they are doing or what they might need. And I wonder: How are our students feeling? Do our young African-American men feel safe? Do our students of color feel more vulnerable as a result of the shooting and protests? Are our white students confused about what they might do to help? Are our teachers equipped to listen, to facilitate conversation, and to respond?
You can click here to see how I have begun to respond, and as a community, I know that we must come together more to talk about race, to talk about difference, to talk about how to be in relationship with one another. We must come together, not just as a response to horrific situations like the deaths of Mike Brown and Vonderitt Meyers, but because of the network of mutuality that sustains us.
With great expectations,