The letter below was originally sent directly to current St. George's parents, as well as our faculty and staff, on Friday, March 19, 2021.
Dear St. George's Families,
At St. George’s, we believe that our entire community only thrives in an environment where the dignity and worth of every human being are lifted, where all feel a sense of belonging and where the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion are prioritized. This year in particular has called us all to deepen our engagement and commitment to our JEDI work, and to affirm that the purpose of our work will be ongoing.
When we think on the shootings and killings in Georgia this past week—and move beyond mere and perhaps fruitless debate over the stated intent of a disturbed murderer—we must acknowledge that there has been an alarming and well-documented increase in violence in this country against our Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals and communities, and in particular against women. It does reaffirm the need to stand firmly against violence based on race, ethnicity, gender and so many other elements that form identity.
And we are, of course, saddened and appalled by the rhetoric and violence of hate and bigotry, and once more horrified by these corresponding acts of violence. But we also need to deepen our understanding of how our language is action, of how our biases operate, of how that racial violence has history and tremendous consequence to the communities against which both are perpetrated. Early in the pandemic, the American Medical Association highlighted how xenophobic language around COVID-19 was threatening and fueling discrimination and hate crimes against Asian communities, “which were already a significant concern due to longstanding interpersonal and structural racism.” This is something the White House itself acknowledged in a recent statement from late January, well before the killings in Georgia but already in response to the uptick in reports of xenophobia and anti-Asian violence associated with the pandemic.
It is hard, in all frankness, to know how to respond to such atrocity, to once more share a conviction and a solidarity as a school community to such outsized, endemic and even systemic issues. We are, after all, here to serve, support and educate our students whose youngest members are not yet one and whose oldest barely reach fourteen or fifteen years of age. The instinct is to raise the shield and wield the armor, to protect us all from what, if we had that magic wand or armor, we’d wish away or vanquish. We have neither.
But we at StG do educate. We do embrace and hold sacred the dignity and worth of every human being. We do have a community that is unusually welcoming and supportive and celebratory of each other. We do have members in our community, right now and in the coming days and weeks, who may feel especially vulnerable, angry and hurt, and who may need more than support or alliance. And we do now also have a JEDI Coalition.
As teachers and parents, we will continue to educate, illustrate and improve our responsiveness to and work on equity, justice, inclusion and belonging. How we respond as a school and a community should be and will be unwaveringly StG.