I am sure that each of you would want to go beyond
the superficial social analyst who looks merely at effects
and does not grapple with underlying causes.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.
to eight White religious leaders in
“Letter from Birmingham Jail”
I am writing this letter because tomorrow is the anniversary of the murder of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The flashpoint of his death, the subsequent protests, the named victims of further violence, and this anniversary are on my mind.
When I think about our Crossroads community, I believe that we are uniquely situated to grapple with the underlying causes of racism that read, on the surface, as inequity, violence, and death aimed with acute particularity at Black and Brown people. I believe that our students, our faculty and staff, and the community of parents and friends that surround us are courageous, honest, and empathetic enough to consider racism from a perspective that is deeper, and more insidious, than individual acts of bias or hatred.
Grappling with underlying causes takes a great deal of intention. To grapple with the underlying causes of racism means that we engage with history and with one another as we work to dismantle the systems and work to revise the stories that are designed to privilege White people at the expense of those who are not. We cannot grapple if we do not hold on, and we must hold on, even when we are tired, even when it is difficult, and even when we can find an easy exit because racism hurts all of us.
However you decide to commemorate this anniversary, I ask that you also consider what has changed for you in the past year with regard to your knowledge, your experience, and your resistance to racism, and I ask that you share this with a friend, family member, or with me. We will be a better community when we return to school in a few weeks 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,