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A Message for Collective Reflection from Crissy Cáceres and the Leadership Team

Dear BFS Community,

The range of feelings that have come to mind throughout the Derek Chauvin trial and many others before it are not dissimilar from the sentiments expressed by so many families who have been devastated by racially charged, hatefully charged, and systemically charged actions that have left them permanently shattered asking whether justice will ever truly prevail.

We all witnessed the breath taken out of our fellow human being, George Floyd, and there are many whose murders we never witnessed at all.

Like many of you over the last few days awaiting a verdict, it was and is ardently clear to us that no matter the verdict, the same work to unapologetically denounce injustice and move with decisive steps towards a different reality must be done today, tomorrow, and every single day ahead. Not just moving–but moving with a directness and purpose fueled by the memories of the many who have been unjustly and tragically murdered at the hands of those charged with upholding laws and life.

Yesterday, Van Jones, CNN Commentator, said after hearing from young people as the verdict drew closer: “The humanity of our generation is on trial. Will our humanity ever be respected?” He then stated that, “People are afraid to hope.”

As a 154-year-old Quaker school, whose primary pillars include social justice and civic engagement, this moment is one that models for young people that when we act on the values of justice – hope becomes possible. This moment is indeed one that is bending towards the arc of justice referenced by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Even more than that, this is a moment where accountability has been realized, and now, we cannot engage passively and think that all is better and we can pause being action agents and co-conspirators in this life-saving work of equity and justice. Instead, this is confirmation that we must forge ahead to comprehensively and uncompromisingly address a system fraught with blindspots, racism, and injustice. As a Quaker School, we are called to act and accept nothing less by letting our lives speak through our voices and actions.

At Brooklyn Friends School, we are united in our respect for the values of humanity and of human life. While one court decision may have brought about a measure of catharsis and relief for some, in this moment, we must also recognize that there is still fear and pain in the souls of many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) in our community, and in our country at large. To our BIPOC adult members and children of our BFS community, we know that this and so many other experiences magnify significant emotions that impact each of you. At this moment, we are connecting to each of you in our community and all BIPOC who face a seemingly endless uphill climb towards justice.

We know that true justice would rest in George Floyd, Tamir Rice, Breonna Taylor, Adam Toledo, Jordan Edwards, and many more being alive to fulfill God’s purpose in their lives. As such, in their memory, may this be a beginning. May this be more than a short reprieve until another life is senselessly lost at the hands of an officer. While there is much left to fix, to heal, to bring to a place of accountability, belonging, and love, and while it is exhausting and overwhelming to continue taking steps forward, particularly for BIPOC community members here and everywhere, Brooklyn Friends is a school. We have the daily reminders in our children that point to hope as not only a possibility, but something that we can grasp and something that we must leverage towards what is good and right and necessary.

We look to the children, always with hope. As such, WE MUST DO BETTER. Our children are listening, watching, learning, emulating, finding their own way. WE MUST NOT FAIL THEM.

With action in mind, we ask that everyone consider how our Quaker school community can support, with dignity and grace, those in our community who may be impacted by cruelty and hatred. We ask that we believe that this is true for some of our students, families, and colleagues. We ask that we all consider ourselves a critical part of the solution.

Some say that the Chauvin verdict redeemed the rule of law, and perhaps there is some measure of truth to that. Some say that with this ruling, the moral arc of the universe has bent ever slightly toward justice. If that is so, it is up to all of us to ensure that its trajectory remains pointed in that direction. Today, justice in the form of a verdict for murder has prevailed, and this means that the movement toward justice MUST fervently continue. While justice can be served in a courtroom, absolute justice can only be served by removing structural and racism-informed systemic obstacles toward equitable access and respect for all humanity. Education that is grounded in social justice provides a means toward that end, and this is what defines and justifies our existence as Brooklyn Friends School.

Know that we are here and available to connect with you and offer support. Our school psychologists and counselors also extend their attentive care. Here are a few resources to review as you are processing.

May this moment always be remembered, and may it stand as the possibility of one step closer towards a new day where all Black and Brown children and adults can begin to consider that life could be lived with joy and peace rather than constant fear. May it stand as one step closer towards the absolute respect for and acknowledgement of the brilliance and strength of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. And may all Black and Brown children and adults be supported in experiencing the full actualization in our community and beyond, through actions and words, that prove their lives matter.

In partnership and with profound hope,

Crissy and The BFS Leadership Team