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Welcome from the Head of School

Intersectionality of Solidarity

March 17, 2021

Dear St. Paul’s Community,

There have been so many triggering events in the past year that illustrate hate toward people who are not white, heterosexual, and Christian. I am writing this letter because as a school, we will acknowledge the trauma that many in our community experience and witness so that we can more effectively build our collective anti-racist and culturally responsive muscles and truly embody the intersectionality of social justice.

Yesterday afternoon, a 21-year old white male shot 8 individuals (6 of whom were women of Asian descent) in Atlanta. Today, I have definitely experienced my share of emotions about this in light of the ongoing increase of anti-Asian hate crimes across the country. But what is even more complex about this incident is the misogyny and fetishization that underlie this violent act. The exoticization of Asians in this country coincides with the xenophobic rhetoric that has perpetuated the chronic othering of AAPI. While this latest event may not seem related to the recent flare-ups of anti-Asian hate crimes associated with the coronavirus, the narrative of the “exotic oriental” and “yellow peril” is alive and well here. So how do we create developmentally appropriate spaces for this conversation with our children?

In one of our recent employee Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) meetings, we discussed the importance of developing a template and common rubric with which to respond as a community to incidents of this nature as they may impact our students. While we do not have this developed and in place at this time, I want to encourage all of us adults (teachers, administrators, staff, and parents) to simply make space as the need arises. Helping our students make sense of these injustices is an ongoing and important component of our program. And, when these incidents occur, we also need to create space for ourselves to reflect and to process before we can facilitate the process for our students.

I also want to recognize that anti-semitism plays a major role in the rise of white supremacist groups and activities across the country and the globe; the American Jewish experience is continually impacted by the presence of these groups and--in recent years--by mass killings at Jewish sites. It is important to call out the anti-semitic rhetoric that surfaced during the January 6 insurrection as part of the many political conspiracy theories that were circulated in the last four years. Finally, it’s come to my attention that our Jewish community members have experienced the sting of microaggressions and blindspots as they've played out in this community and nationally. I see you.

We have an opportunity to educate and to remain engaged in the larger conversations around anti-racism, bias, and decentering white supremacy. While officials are saying that it is too early to call what happened in Atlanta a racially-motivated hate crime, the fact is that the suspect is a 21-year old white male who was preparing to attack other similar establishments when he was apprehended. 

Please know that I am here for St. Paul's and this community. I see the impact of ongoing trauma for our Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) community members as we continue to endure violence against our bodies. Black Lives Matter, there’s no place for anti-semitism, and it's time to stop Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate. I see you.

This is a time for solidarity and holding space for one another.

St. Paul's Episcopal School
116 Montecito Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610