A Message from the Head: Reflections on Charlottesville

Jason HeissererUncategorized

Friends,

The events in Charlottesville, Virginia yesterday are weighing on me. Yesterday as I read news articles and watched videos from those who were there, I had to resist the impulse to separate myself from the bigotry and racism that fueled the protest and the violence. This is challenging and important to share. Even with my personal and professional commitment to justice and equity, I am still socialized to think that my gender, race, and role as Head of School are inherently good, right, and trustworthy. Disrupting these internalized attitudes of superiority takes attention, diligence, and work.

It is also easy to try to separate Crossroads from the bigotry and racism of this weekend’s protests in Charlottesville. We have a 43 year history of diversity, of a robust scholarship program, and of urban schooling. Our mission statement names our commitment to justice and equity. We have taken time the last two years to educate faculty, staff, our Board, and parents by attending Understanding and Analyzing Systemic Racism workshops. We remind ourselves that our students, that all of us, are smart and good. And we are.

This, however, is not enough. The work of racial justice is imperative. It is damaging to all of us. Our attention to this cannot be passive, particularly if we identify as white. The institutions to which we belong are part of larger contexts that may or may not work to disrupt bigotry and racism. So I am calling the white members of our community to our responsibility for justice and equity at Crossroads, and I am reminding us that explicit conversations about race with our families and white peers and learning about internalized superiority are essential to our identity and our mission.

There are many resources for this, including attending the workshop I mentioned above, reading books like What Does it Mean to be White? Developing White Racial Literacy, and using resources on the Internet like this. I will share opportunities for learning at Crossroads with our families and community soon. Participating in these activities is important and valuable for all of our young people

Finally, we must live the hope for our students and for Crossroads together and publicly; we must work on holding one another accountable for disrupting racism; and we must build community so that we have the capacity to remain committed to justice and equity even when it is challenging or difficult.

We begin the year together as a community Monday evening at our all school picnic. In order to build and strengthen relationships, we must know one another. So I hope that each of us reaches out to greet those we know and those we will come to know and that we affirm one another’s place in this community.

With great expectations,
Jason