Note: I share this message in both written and audio formats.
Dear BFS Community,
I connect with you today knowing that many in our school community, city, and nation have been and are hurting deeply. Throughout the past few months, we have been experiencing a global pandemic that has affected everyone in varied ways. Coupled with this crisis has been a highlighting of the ways in which communities that have been marginalized have had additional layers of complexity and pain to navigate. This has included pain inflicted towards Asian and Asian Americans, towards people who lack home and food security, towards people who lack equitable access to healthcare resources, and more. Amidst these calamitous realities, there has been a continuation of cruel acts of violence towards Black and Brown bodies influenced by the incessant connection between racism, bias, and hate.
At Brooklyn Friends, our school’s mission and values call us to acknowledge the recent horrific and senseless deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd along with the many who have died and we have known about (due to cameras streaming and social media) as well as those whose cries for breath we’ve never heard. Our mission and values call us to understand what underlies a White woman named Amy Cooper to make explicit use of the police as a weapon in Central Park upon Christian Cooper, an African American man.
In these times, one can have a range of emotions and be at a loss for what to think or do next. Often, we feel powerless over powerful systemic truths. Thankfully, we can all lean on the breadth of hope that our Brooklyn Friends community provides. Hope is what our Quaker school represents. Hope is what we use to propel thoughtful actions. Hope is what brings us together.
Amidst this hope, I also affirm that many in our community are exhausted and filled with dread. In these moments, hopelessness and despair can take over, and we can lose the strength that we have within to fight injustice. That is why I ask all in our community, and especially our White community members, to be mindful of the toll that current realities are having on the experiences of our community members of color. The moment is now to show up for one another, especially for those who fear for their lives or the lives of their loved ones.
At BFS, we are teaching our students to stand against all forms of hate. We are centering empathy and fostering their capacity to listen and build bridges. We are preparing them to build a world that is better than the one they are inheriting. These promises are kept through our intentional curriculum and through the making of space for them to ask questions, express their feelings, and share their voices. As we get to the closure of this academic year, we are reminded of the might of our students. As has been true of graduates before them, we believe that the Class of 2020 will take the skills they’ve learned at BFS and utilize them to improve their own communities and the broader world.
At this time and always, we depend on our strong partnership between home and school in realizing our goals. We know that the conversations that occur in our students’ homes are vital complements to the work we do at school. We also acknowledge how challenging these conversations can be. How do we teach our children to appreciate and love, even as we feel ourselves being rattled by ever-present exposure to the world’s problems? To this end, I am sharing resources that are intended to support you in having these conversations.
Alone, we may feel powerless, weak, tired, helpless, angry, breathless, and invisible. Together, however, we can support each other when we fall; look in each others’ eyes when we are not seen; extend words that lift spirits when others’ voices feel depleted and silent; and hold each other in Light and love when hatred beats hard upon our doors. Together, we can stand. We can stand for one another. We can stand for those we’ve never met who are standing up for justice in the face of despair. It is through hope, shared learning, and compassionate action that we will create a different tomorrow.
In peace and with hope,
Head of School