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Welcome from the Head of School

Confronting White Supremacy

April 14, 2021
Dear St. Paul’s Families,

We just wrapped the third day back from Spring Break (welcome back!), and teachers, administrators, and staff are working tirelessly to prepare for 90% of our students returning to campus next week. The need to connect with one another is incredibly important, especially as we recognize the impact on our community of the latest shooting of a Black man just a few miles away from the trial of Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

Daunte Wright, just 20 years old, was pulled over for a routine traffic stop, and shot by former Brooklyn Center police officer, Kim Potter, who thought she was using her Taser. She was arrested earlier today on charges of second-degree murder. There are fewer than six degrees of separation between Daunte Wright and George Floyd. Floyd’s girlfriend, Courtney Ross, was Daunte’s teacher in high school. This intersection is a haunting reminder that every individual is someone’s parent, child, sibling, student, teacher, family member, friend, acquaintance -- someone known and loved. Every single victim is a human being who is connected to a community. The tragedy of this continuous assault and erasure of Black and brown bodies is the ongoing perpetuation of their dehumanization; the fact of these deaths is evidence that white police officers like Potter and Chauvin do not see or value the humanity of their victims. Race-based violence is the result of systems that see Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) as inferior, diseased, beasts, criminals, and threats to the ‘system’.

At the Asian Student Union meeting earlier today, one student reminded me that there are plenty of victims of police brutality and racist violence who do not make it into the frontline news or don’t become a hashtag. What happened to Daunte Wright, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, Trayvon Martin, and Rodney King has happened to countless others whose families and loved ones are left mourning and fighting for justice. 

As educators and families, we need to move the needle in dismantling white supremacist ideology and systemic racism by actively engaging in anti-racist and anti-bias thinking and practices. We need to step into the fray of this conversation and engage in action intentionally, boldly, and with humility and humanity.  

This work cannot rely on the labor of people of color, specifically our Black and brown community members. White community members, we need your allyship and activism. As an AAPI cis-gender female, I stand in solidarity with my Black and brown brothers and sisters and will not be divided from them. These events continue to (re)traumatize and wear BIPOC down, and yet, what do we do? We keep moving forward, fighting the fight, effecting change, and empowering the voices and wisdom of our youth who know that our history does not bear repeating. Together, we need to create opportunities for authentic connections, hold space and listen to one another, and take care of each other. These are the hallmarks of our St. Paul’s community values.

Stay safe and be well,
St. Paul's Episcopal School
116 Montecito Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610