I have spent much of today reading and thinking about the nine individuals murdered this past Wednesday at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC. It takes my breath away to think about the horror of the last moments of the lives of Cynthia Hurd, Ethel Lee Lance, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sr., Myra Thompson, Suzy Jackson, Depayne Middleton-Doctor, Sharonda Singleton, and Clementa Pinckney, and I feel small in comparison to the systems of racism and violence that contribute to such atrocities.
There are many reasons I could go about my Friday without thinking or speaking of this tragedy, and it is for these reasons that I have decided to write to you this evening. Although school is not in session, I feel strongly that we remain in relationship and that I am responsible for the commitment to diversity and inclusivity stated in our mission even through the summer. It is profound that there are those in our community who will be subjected to the effects of this shooting and those who will be able to move through the summer as if it never happened. What are we to do since we do not have each other as we do during the school year? I wonder how, in the context of this massacre, we can listen, empathize, and build relationships across our different experiences of this tragedy.
I suggest that you reach out as to those who are like you and to those who are different from you. I suggest that you listen to understand and empathize, not to debate. I suggest that you ask brave questions and talk about what you see, feel, and experience with courage, even if what you say seems bold or frightening. We will be a better community when we return to school in August for having reached out in this way, and our commitment to one another, to social justice, and to the diversity and inclusivity stated in our mission will be stronger. In short, we will be better allies.
In the meantime, if there is any support I might offer, if my listening will be helpful, I am available to you.
With great expectations,