I’m posting the letter we sent to the SLA community today. It is not the first time I have had to send a letter like this, and although I wish it were not so, I am deeply afraid that it will not be the last.
That said, I’m sharing this on the blog because I think it’s important that school leaders understand that we can — that we must — speak up in these moments. What we say and what we do in times of crisis, injustice and pain matters. And yes, it can feel hard to write these letters. For one, it is hard to know what to say. For many school leaders, they will face real backlash for speaking up and speaking out. And especially for white school leaders, we are all very much on the journey of learning how to best leverage our positions of power and privilege to stand up for racial justice.
And still, this moment matters. People are hurting terribly right now. For our Black students, for our Black faculty and staff, that hurt is immeasurable, as people are faced again with the graphic evidence of racial injustice, even as the African-American community is already experiencing a profoundly disproportionate effect of the Coronavirus.
So to my fellow school leaders, please consider the powerful impact your voice can have in a moment like this. I’m sharing my words such that, if you don’t know what to say, please feel free to use our letter as a template. And take my advice – have some folks on staff who write better than you do read over yours first. They’ll make it better. I don’t pretend for a second that what I wrote today is perfect or is more than what it is. But I hope it let every student and every family at SLA know where I stand – where all of the adults at SLA stand – in this moment of crisis, injustice and pain.
With that… here’s what we sent out today:
Dear SLA families,
I wanted to take a moment to address the anger and hurt and pain that many of us in our community are feeling this week. Once again, we are confronted with the very real impact that systemic racism has on Black Americans.
For a community such as SLA, where our students are forever inspiring us with the work that they do to make a better world, moments like this can feel particularly hard, and to have to process this when we are not together makes it harder.
For people who are seeking out ways to make a difference today, we’ve listed some resources below.
And for any member of our community who is hurting today, please know that we’re here. We see you, and we are here for you as you need us.
On Behalf of Everyone at SLA