Sunday, May 31, 2020

May 31 Update

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I hope this message finds you well.  I am writing to you from the comfort of my home and neighborhood surrounded by people who care for me and are cared for by me.  However, given the recent news of lives being so needlessly and unjustly brutalized in Louisiana, Georgia, and Minnesota, I am reminded of the fact that many fellow citizens do not enjoy the privileges afforded to me.  Our race, ethnicity, gender, and different aspects of our identities we are born with determine what resources we are able to access and how we are treated by other members of this society.  The recent event that happened in Central Park between a black bird watcher and a white dog walker showed us that regardless of the level of education we have attained, or our professional achievements, we all have the capacity to turn to our biased selves when we are dysregulated, and the resulting behaviors we exhibit can bring about devastating consequences for others and ourselves.

As Dr. Evans stated in her email, the district is working on various options for what schooling will look like in the Fall.  Even though we all yearn to get back to our “normal” practices and schedules because they are familiar and therefore comforting, we have to remember there are parts of that “normal” we should no longer accept.  I am reminded of the Faculty Meeting we held a week before school closure when I shared with the McCall teachers and staff the quote below from writer and scholar Ibram Kendi:

“One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an antiracist. There is no in-between safe space of 'not racist'. The claim of 'not racist' neutrality is a mask for racism.”

How we will teach our students to embrace anti-bias thinking and exhibit anti-bias behaviors has not left my thoughts since March.  Given the uncertainty with the Fall, I cannot tell you specifically how we will be moving forward with this endeavor at this moment.  However, inaction is not an option, and returning to a “normal” where we do not address behaviors such as racist graffiti on our walls and various forms of microaggression proactively and through a whole school approach is not one we should want to return to.  My staff and I will will be working on this in the coming months, and I will share with you our plan as soon as we develop it.  I hope I can count on all of your support even though the process may bring about some level of discomfort within all of us.

Lastly, I would like to share with you this article which outlines a conversation with Beverly Daniel Tatum and Erlanger Turner, both psychologists, on how to help our students process the events related to the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and George Floyd.  I hope you will find it helpful.

Thank you and be well!

James Lin
McCall Middle School

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