The City of Chicago is under curfew. Streets are barricaded. Public transport has been suspended. The National Guard has been brought in to partner with police to prevent a repeat of the looting and violence that has taken place over the last week. This is happening in cities across America, and around the world.
We are a community whose frustration and anger has boiled over. We should be angry and demand justice and reform in the wake of the killing of George Floyd while in police custody. Anger, frustration, and confusion has erupted onto the streets in many forms. Demonstrations and protests over the last several days have disrupted our community and raised awareness, once more, of the inequity our nation faces. Voices are raised in solidarity with the members of our black and brown community for an end to the violence- violence that African-Americans have been subject to for over 400 years.
Trying to make sense of this moment is extraordinarily difficult. It is frightening, painful, heartbreaking, and senseless. How might we make meaning out of this? One might resort to destruction as some have done. Yet the fruit of such destruction often hurts those who most need the help, leaving one feeling even more helpless. Let’s consider how we might fight together to change and work collectively toward a future that we want for ourselves and our children. Along with the much portrayed looting, we have also seen powerful examples of peaceful demonstrations and individuals coming together as a community to support one another, like the large peaceful, multiracial demonstration this past Sunday organized by ETHS students and alumni. This is a time for community building. This is a time to advance real change. This is no time to remain silent. It is a moment to advance for a more positive future.
St. Paul Mayor, Melvin Carter is calling for Peace, not Patience. He’s right. We should not be patient. We must become antiracist and actively promote change. Monday, just prior to our Upper School Awards ceremony I shared these thoughts with our students and their families and invited anyone who would like to work with me to reach out. Two members of our Junior class responded immediately after the ceremony and they are now planning a Zoom meeting for fellow Upper School students next week.
Concurrently, we are planning a community forum to facilitate a conversation about what we are experiencing in this moment, its historical context, and how we might respond. Following the forum, we will convene a smaller group to distill what was discussed and how we can support our young people to get involved, be agents for social change and lead us toward a better tomorrow. I invite you to contact me if you are interested in becoming a leader or helping to develop our future leaders.
In the meantime, here are three things you can do today:
- Register to vote if you haven’t already, and vote at all levels of government. In this article from Barack Obama, he articulates the importance of understanding that the “elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.”
- Talk with your kids about what is happening right now and encourage them to engage in age-appropriate ways. Some resources are listed below.
- Volunteer your time to support an organization whose mission supports ending racism. Our partners at the YWCA in Evanston, whose mission is “eliminating racism and empowering women,” invite community members to get involved.
Here are a few resources that you might find helpful to learn more or discuss with your families:
- Anti-Racist Resources and Reads from the Evanston Public Library
- The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture- Being Antiracist
- How to talk to kids about race and racism by Cultures of Dignity
- This resource from Common Sense Media offers some suggestions for how white parents can use media to raise anti-racist kids
- Raising Race Conscious Children
- Talking Race With Young Children
- Mindful Schools: Healing Our Hearts
- Black Lives Matter
We look forward to our work together at this critical moment. We are called upon to demonstrate leadership and to support and inspire our young people to lead as well.