I began writing this letter on Wednesday and then woke up yesterday and today to the painful news of more shooting deaths in our country. My heart is heavy and I feel impossibly small as I think about the lives, friends, families, and loved ones of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Philando Castile in Minneapolis, and the police officers and others who were killed or wounded in Dallas.
In my letter in June after the shooting deaths in Orlando, Florida, I wrote, “I believe that Crossroads is a place where inclusivity confers dignity. I believe that we are a place where we understand that race, gender and sexual identity, religious and national affiliations, and how we name, prioritize, and live out our values and rights affects our history and our relationships.” I still believe this. I have looked out into the world since that letter, though, and have seen more and more evidence that this aspiration takes continued attention and work for us to realize a world where a sense of dignity and humanity is respected and believed about every body. There is evidence, during this and other weeks, that the locus of dignity and humanity, however, is horribly askew.
Generally in letters of this nature I ask you to reach out to one another to listen and to learn. I ask because I believe connections and conversations of this sort better our commitment to one another, to social justice, and to the diversity and inclusivity stated in our mission. In this letter, though, I insist, as much as any leader can respectfully insist, that you do. I insist as an act of love. Racism, violence, and retribution of any kind hurts us all.
Besides the above, if you are not sure where to begin, please
- Attend to whatever grief, confusion, anger, or worry you are feeling as best that you can and as a way of taking care of yourself and those around you.
- Engage in conversations with those with whom you share any meaningful affinity, be it family, race, religion, or something else. For example, white people must work with other white people to help end racism, so I reach out to other white school leaders as a part of my work (as a part of our work) to lead just and equitable schools.
- Read with friends or family and then talk about this attached (and shared with verbal permission) “Historical Development of Institutional Racism” written by Robette Dias, Co-Executive Director of the CrossRoads Anti-Racism Organizing and Training. (This is the organization that will be facilitating the faculty and staff anti-bias/anti-racism workshop in August at Crossroads.)
There are other things we must do, of course, and other ways of responding. All of us have a different role that is a unique reflection of our identity in the world. This letter is one way I am responding now from my role as Head of School.
Participating in just relationships, making school systems (and other systems) just, is work to which we must attend ongoingly. It will make the learning and the relationships of which we are so proud at Crossroads even more compelling and meaningful and even more dynamic and useful for the future of our school and community.
Finally, if there is any support I might offer, if my listening will be helpful, I am available to you.