The 2019-2020 school year ended in a way that would have been totally unimaginable just five months ago. Somehow, collectively, we managed to bring closure to a spring quarter that in many ways seemed like a roller-coaster ride. Now we have time this summer to rest and relax and at the same time prepare for the new school year and the various formats it may take.
While we can relax a bit now that the school year is behind us, we are confronted with the realities of incidents taking place around us. We learned of the recent deaths of two African Americans – George Floyd and Breonna Taylor -- at the hands of the police, and a third, Ahmaud Arbery, at the hands of armed civilians. The U.S. COVID-19 death toll surpassed 100,000 individuals with Latino deaths in California exceeding other ethnicities. How do we make sense of these senseless, racist, violent acts? How do we help bring about systemic change and stop the perpetuation of racial and economic inequities?
As a Christian educational community committed to equity, the dignity of all peoples, the principles of social justice, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship, how do we respond to such injustices? How do we allow your [our students’] voices, frustrations, and perspectives to be heard and acted upon? How do we prepare you to address the racism you have faced, and will inevitably be confronted with?
As a community, we reach out in solidarity. Ms. Molina is available should anyone wish to talk and debrief. Our campus ministers are planning a prayer service in the near future. We look forward to coming together in the fall to face these challenges together. We are also open to other ways of providing support – please contact me with your ideas.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama, gave us a charge, a directive in her Facebook post:
Like so many of you, I’m pained by these recent tragedies. And I’m exhausted by a heartbreak that never seems to stop. Right now, it’s George, Breonna, and Ahmaud. Before that it was Eric, Sandra, and Michael. It just goes on, and on, and on. Race and racism is a reality that so many of us grow up learning to just deal with. But if we ever hope to move past it, it can’t just be on people of color to deal with it. It’s up to all of us—Black, white, everyone—no matter how well-meaning we think we might be, to do the honest, uncomfortable work of rooting it out. It starts with self-examination and listening to those whose lives are different from our own. It ends with justice, compassion, and empathy that manifests in our lives and on our streets. I pray we all have the strength for that journey, just as I pray for the souls and the families of those who were taken from us.
Know that we are thinking of you and praying for you. We also pray and mourn for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, for all those who have lost their lives to systemic racism, for the COVID-19 victims and their families, and for the pandemic frontline workers.
Dr. George V. Fornero