Confronting Our Long-Standing National Identity Crisis
Kim Ridley, Head of School
Dear Fayerweather Community,
Our country is finally confronting our long-standing identity crisis! Who are we? Who is American? Who truly has the power in America? Who has been told they have some power, but now feel they have been minoritized? What does it mean to feel minoritized? What does it feel like to be lied to about who you truly are? What are the historical currents that are foundational to this very moment in time? I had originally written some reflections on technology. The blog was entitled, “The Problem with Technology.” Instead I want to say, “thank God for technology” because it has nudged some of us out of a deep sleep (or lack of awareness) into a place of looking in the mirror, and for others, raising our awareness, understanding, and curiosity. And yet, for some of us this reckoning is a confirmation of what we have been feeling and experiencing our whole lives. This is an opportunity for us as a country to move away from overly simplistic thinking about these issues to realizing the complexity that is underneath the above stated questions, and what is at the heart of the actions taken at the Capitol last evening!
Schools have never been more important to our democracy than at this present moment. It is in school where we can have the opportunity to foster self-awareness, and a realization that we are all interconnected. There has to be an emotional investment in order for people to relate to the feelings of others. One of the only ways I know to increase empathy and concern for others is to be proximate with people who see and experience the world differently from you. The relationships we have with others is what gives us insight into how people make meaning of their social identities and social realities.
The large numbers of neighborhoods and schools in this country continue to be segregated spaces, which reinforces the “us and them” mentality. This week I have been talking to many prospective families. What I hear over and over again is what attracts them to the Fayerweather community is this idea of their children learning to care about others; to have the opportunity to be in school where leaders, teachers and students represent different cultural perspectives and values. They want their children to learn to be “good people” and/or “citizens of the world.” Several parents have led with, “we assume that our children will be academically supported and successful, but will they learn to have a voice and to care about humanity.”
My intention is that the many social justice stances and work that we all participate in, and do at Fayerweather School will have a positive impact that will vibrate through all of the communities and spaces that our children, teachers, and families occupy. I believe that we will resolve to hold this country accountable to its beliefs that all people are created equal and will have equitable access to the rights, privileges, and resources that define what it means to be an American. We can never rest, as we must continuously fight for freedom!