I have not been able to write for weeks. I could say it was the stress of COVID-19 and trying to lead a school at a distance. But, that would not be true to myself, and my beliefs – something I tell my students is so very important and meaningful. COVID-19 has been worrisome, and managing distance learning for three months has been challenging, but neither has made my heart ache like the racism that exists in our country and our world. Several recent events have brought this to the fore – yet, again.
What is wrong with us? Nelson Mandela wrote: No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love; for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite. Each and every one of us, as educators and role models for children, must do better. To say change is necessary is not enough. We must commit to doing the work immediately, and continually, as we listen, learn and have meaningful conversations about race in our country. This will be hard.
I believe that we can and should have these conversations in elementary schools. This is not only the work of secondary schools and colleges. The younger, the better. I told the Kent School employee group yesterday in our closing meetings that along with our rigorous and relevant curriculum which may be delivered in a hybrid way, kindness will also be the focus of next academic year. We must intentionally teach children how to be kind to each other, and to love each other. I have hope as I watch children interact that they will not repeat the societal mistakes they see. I have hope as I watch my own children’s current outrage over a broken system. I have hope as I witness crowds of multiracial humans protesting peacefully against injustice.
I believe that the country needs compassionate, empathetic leadership in politics and policy making. The void that exists now across our country must be filled. Use your vote in November to change the tide. We can no longer stay silent.