Dear St. Paul's Families,
Yesterday afternoon, our entire faculty and staff came together to discuss how to address the recent shooting of Jacob Blake
and the passing of Chadwick Boseman
. On Monday, Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies fatally shot Dijon Kizzee
, sparking another surge of protests in the area. The ongoing violence against black and brown bodies in our society as the structures of systemic racism have been exposed continues to send a message that this society does not care about our black and brown community members. The loss of Boseman, someone who embodied the positive, powerful, hopeful vision of Black Power existing outside the structures of white supremacy and the legacy of slavery in this country, is devastating. (Please read more about Boseman here
I want families to be aware that we're creating space for these conversations in our classes because in the absence of acknowledging these continued blows and losses, we are complicit in our silence.
In the Lower School divisional breakout, Fourth Grade teacher CJ Lee said that, “When we don’t open space, it puts into question whether we value what our children of color and their families value and may be talking about at home.” Our intention is not to make a formal presentation, but to allow time for conversation, listen to children’s questions, and to acknowledge that things continue to happen that impact and traumatize our community members. This is the starting place for our children to build empathy and take it out to the world, beyond St. Paul’s.
This morning our students in Third to Eighth Grades participated in developmentally appropriate conversations with their teachers. As educators and the adults that support both the academic learning and social and emotional development and wellbeing of our students, we need to allow them to process these events and to give them the time to respond and reflect.
Nayo and I will spend necessary time with our K-2 team to provide a differentiated and age-appropriate approach for our youngest students. We intend to partner with parents and guardians before we begin in the classroom and encourage you to visit our Anti-Racism Resources
page, in the meantime. Please keep an eye out for additional information from the Lower School Division Director, Nayo Brooks.
Ultimately, how we build empathy and care for one another is not relegated to a single conversation on a single day, but is embedded in our curriculum across all grade levels. And yet, there are times when we all need to come together to share in a moment and acknowledge a collective experience. Holding space to acknowledge how and why Black Lives Matter this week was very much about that.
St. Paul’s Mission and Values and Portrait of a Graduate aspire to cultivate youth who are leaders in community activism, builders, and fearless learners and dreamers; creating safe and brave spaces for students and adults to talk about and reflect on what’s happening in the world and our communities is central to this goal.
The protests of the past four months have exposed the face of white supremacy and systemic oppression. Black Lives Matter, and we must keep the momentum of this movement going so that we do not return to a place of complacency. This pandemic and the politicization of a human rights issue has eroded the empathy and compassion people should have for one another. We owe it to our children’s generation to lean into these courageous conversations and confront our own biases to disrupt the status quo, so that our youth can become the change agents and empowered, hopeful problem solvers they are destined to be.
Remember, it’s about the 3 Cs: Courage, Creativity, and Community.
Take good care,