Dear Fayerweather Community,
I am reaching out to you with a deep sense of sadness and anger, as I live through and reflect on the state of our world, particularly Black lives. Fayerweather’s mission and our community condemns the kind of violence we witnessed as the life of George Floyd was taken right before our eyes. The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor are just the tip of the iceberg of a long and complicated history of slavery, bigotry, violence, and systemic racism.
Adrienne Marie Brown, from her book, Emergent Strategy
, describes our struggle to see past our individual experiences to consider an analysis of how systems, laws, and practices impact groups of people. In other words, we tend to see problems of racism, homophobia, and classism, etc., at the individual, micro level versus the group, macro, institutional level. Brown exclaims, “did these individuals set a course as children to become abusers, misogynists, racist liars?” Our systems, structures, and practices shape our social identities, and thus, our individual actions.
Racism has been our 400-year pandemic. The daily, on-going racial conditioning and socialization has been passed down through generations and continues to manifest in our present state of affairs. From the moment people are born into this society there is clear messaging through our schools, religious institutions, government, neighborhoods, and social media that highlights who and what is valued. This socialization is further reinforced by the alienation and separateness of the segregated spaces we occupy within our communities. The collective we seldom interacts with people who are different from us, which further widens the gap between what we think we know, and what we actually understand.
It is time for us to embrace the messiness of our human experience, to notice our actions, and to grapple with the abuse of power that is the cause of so much suffering. Being open, vulnerable, and willing to wade through the murky water of this country’s hateful history is the beginning of the learning process, but essential in developing self-awareness, and empathy. Those in privileged positions--racially, socio-economically, and politically--can use their power and privilege to empower, to be advocates and agents of change. We have the power to transform our communities into places and spaces where all have the freedom to be who we are meant to be, without fear of being undermined, or worse yet, having violence visited upon us.
Curiosity, humility, and proximity are strategies that can help our community begin the healing process. Consider the following suggestions:
Position yourself to gain a broader perspective of the world by connecting with others that can offer a different perspective from dominant narratives
Educate yourself by reading the history of slavery; explore articles, engage and listen to stories of the African American experience in this country
Participate in affinity structures and cross-racial dialogue opportunities
Please stop looking at race through the binary of good and bad--this is an oversimplified and concrete way of approaching race and leaves much out of the story--mostly, ourselves
Commit to taking a deeper look and examination of systems and structures that support racism
Commit to dismantling systems and structures that uphold racism and violence
Cultivate awareness, empathy, and resilience, as you will need this strength to build bridges, connection and self-care
Fayerweather’s mission is clear that our commitment, yours and mine, is to educate students in a diverse, equitable, and inclusive learning community. We know that this kind of community changes hearts and minds. So let’s commit to making change and transforming our world together.Resources for addressing racism and violence