A MESSAGE FROM HEAD OF SCHOOL EVAN GLAZER
June 1, 2020
Dear Avenues New York Community,
I write to you tonight with a sad and heavy heart. As we celebrated our students' work and milestones as part of the end of our school year, and even as we watched the coronavirus death toll reach 100,000 Americans, last week became defined by the ongoing tragedy of racism in the country. On the same day, a white woman in Central Park called 911 claiming a black man who asked her to leash her dog was threatening her, a police officer in Minneapolis knelt on the neck of George Floyd, ignoring his plea that he couldn't breathe and holding him to the ground until he died.
The senseless killing of black Americans has left our nation reeling. Even a cursory glance at the news these past days shows how deeply the pain of this violent injustice is being felt—and how deep the outrage is in communities from coast to coast. The senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery are the most recent violent acts committed against black people in America, and highlight yet again the tragic persistence of racism and injustice in the United States. While many of us, including myself as a white man cognizant of my privilege, can only imagine the trauma and pain caused by these ongoing injustices, I know that the pain of these events is especially intense for certain members of our community, beginning with those who are African American and of African descent, though certainly not ending there. And I know that, in this time of tension around the pandemic and rising strains in US-China relations, others in our community are also suffering distinctive forms of harassment and discrimination.
Racism, discrimination and injustice are antithetical to Avenues' community values of welcome, safety and respect—they run counter to our commitment to create a culture of diversity, equity and inclusion. I fully acknowledge that our efforts in this area are a work in progress and these recent events are a stark reminder that the work we still have to do is more critical than ever. We cannot look the other way from what is occurring in New York City and throughout the entire country. Our community values require us to actively speak out against injustice, to use our voices to call for change, and to demonstrate compassion and empathy for others.
We know that our students of all ages are paying attention to what is happening around them and they have questions as they try to make sense of the senseless. You may be struggling with how to talk to your children about the current events and the larger issues of racism, discrimination and social injustice. Given school is out of session, our teachers will be unable to have these conversations with students right now, but you surely are at home. We have aggregated a variety of age-appropriate resources here, also posted on OPEN, that may be helpful in your conversations.
I imagine you share my desire to help and yet grapple with the first step. Let's start by doing what we can, which I believe is to first embrace and strengthen our community. I encourage you to reach out to other parents who may be feeling this injustice more intensely as this will only strengthen our community bond. Beyond that, there are things we can all do. We must take our empathy and turn it into action. Our collective efforts, big and small, can help in ways both big and small. I encourage us all to look for ways to get involved, to create action, to listen and learn and become an ally in modeling global citizenship, racial equality and equity within our community.
As parents and educators, our job is to nurture and equip our children and students in a hundred different ways. Avenues' commitment to prepare world-wise leaders has a special urgency in thinking hard about the conditions of the world around us and the legacies of past inequalities and injustices. We are committed to embracing the hard work of addressing those legacies, not only for our students so they can become ethical world-wise leaders, but also for our adult community—for each other.
Be safe and be well.