The last thing I want to leave with our wonderful families, faculty, and staff right now is sad news and a negative message. Despite the news, my hope is that this letter will instill in you a sense of hope and motivation to take action.
As we all know, a number of stories involving unarmed black people being killed by white men, some of them police officers, have dominated the news in recent months*. In Georgia on February 23, Ahmaud Arbery, 25, who was allegedly mistaken him for a local thief, was shot and killed by a father and son who followed him in their truck as he was jogging. This story remained buried for two months until video footage of the incident was made public. The father and son have since been arrested. In Kentucky, Breonna Taylor, 26, was shot and killed by police in her home as she slept in the middle of the night on March 13. Police claim that her home was connected to a drug raid and that they had a warrant to search it. No drugs were found. Each of those officers has been placed on administrative leave. On the evening of Monday, May 25, a police officerin Minneapolis handcuffed and then knelt on the neck of George Floyd, 46, while three other officers watched, killing him. Floyd had allegedly used a counterfeit twenty dollar bill in a nearby store. Each of the four officers involved in in Floyd’s death has been fired, and the officer who killed him has been arrested and charged with third-degree murder. We have seen stories like this over the last several years, and they don’t get any easier to take. In fact, I think for many of us, the numbness these stories sometimes leave us with comes with increasing and ironic pain. (*The killings of Arbery and Floyd were captured on video. Please speak with your adults at home before choosing to view either, as they are graphic and extremely disturbing.)
Since these killings, a number of protests, demonstrations, and riots have broken out across the country calling for justice. To our students: I am so sorry that this is your world right now. I cannot imagine what it has been like for you to grow up in what should be peaceful and joyful years of childhood with what seems like weekly reminders that our country is full of people who hate so much that they can kill or put others in a position to be killed. Although we have no real playbook for these situations as educators, we are here for you in any way that you need us. We can and will help you process all of this. And please remember that your voice matters and can make a real difference in the world. These two incidents were clearly racism in action. Don’t stay silent if you feel like you have something to say. People will listen. And if you are hurting, and I know many of you are, please let us know.
I urge each of you in our community to please keep informed, painful as it may be, about topics of injustice in our country and around the world. Teach your own children – at appropriate levels, of course – about our world and each of our different communities. It is the only way to make things better. We have a wonderful and beautiful country, but this particular stain of racism is still quite visible and needs to be erased. Activism can be as simple as sharing information with a community that needs to be informed or as large as contacting your local government or participating in a demonstration for justice.
But we cannot stay silent, and we each need to act. This is the country we live in, and we have to take care of it.
Finally, take solace in the fact that Brimmer is better than this, and the schools that our seniors are attending in the fall are better than this. There are good people out there. Find them and partner with them and take action with them. For those who want to listen, learn, read, watch, or understand, check out this list of resourcesfrom Jaime Lin. Jaime teaches in our Lower School and works tirelessly with the Brimmer community and beyond in the name of justice and peace. This pandemic has shown us, in many ways, how strong communities can be when they come together. If there is a silver lining in any of this, perhaps that is it.
As an inclusive community, Brimmer welcomes students who will increase the diversity of our school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or any other characteristic protected from discrimination under state or federal law, in the administration of our educational policies, admissions practices, financial aid decisions, and athletic and other school-administered programs.