his is not the traditional “introductory letter” that I thought I’d be writing to you as your new high school principal.
Right now, our country is suffering from deep and staggering wounds that are ultimately rooted in our country's history -- undeniably replete with racist ideals and practices. As our community gathered this past Saturday evening in peaceful protest, my wife and I marched the streets of Lorain chanting the names of far too many of our neighbors and friends who simply wanted to live an ordinary life, enjoying the rights of freedom and prosperity that we as Americans are promised.
Instead, their lives were ended at the hands of our law enforcement -- the very agency charged with ensuring civil order and protection. Lives ended because of the color of their skin. The notion that “we can do better” feels insufficient when our brothers and sisters are deeply suffering, and so clearly not safe.
As a man who is white, I have been spending a lot of time lately in deep reflection examining the privilege that was born within the fragile barrier of my skin. These conversations I have with myself are admittedly uncomfortable -- there’s nothing easy about shedding white fragility -- especially when it means knowing you have to focus on shifting from a lens that is passively “non-racist" to one that is steadfastly, proactively, vocally “anti-racist."
At Lorain High School, our promise to you begins with acknowledging systemic barriers like poverty, inequitable opportunities, and racist institutional policies. Our next natural step as a school community is to demonstrate the collective courage to publicly and vocally oppose it.
At the same time, it's important to remember that there is reason to have hope.
If there's anything that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it's how quickly our world can change. None of us have seen anything like this in our lifetimes, and none of us can deny its lasting impact on our perspective and worldview. In the span of 48 hours, every aspect of the way that our country operates was fundamentally changed. And while our pre-coronavirus lives often revolved around the notion that “change takes time,” we now understand that there isn't time for things to “take time.”
To this end, our work at Lorain High School will begin with developing a collective sense of unity.
The 2020-2021 school year will be focused on rebuilding trust that has been lost, strengthening relationships both internally and externally, putting processes in place that support stakeholder-driven decisions, incorporating trauma-sensitive practices into every possible aspect of our work, and applying a proactive “anti-racist” lens to everything that we do.
Together, we will do better. But make no mistake, "better" starts with doing the work together.