Letter to CoaH Community – June 1, 2020

Dear CoaH Community,

When we began our Diversity, Inclusion, Citizenship and Equity (DICE) work in October 2018, City on a Hill Charter Public Schools acknowledged that as an organization operating in and partnering with Black and brown communities, we have an obligation to amplify the power and voice of our students and families. As we finish out a school year that has not been typical by any standard, it would be easy to not take this opportunity as a community to stop and acknowledge what is happening in our country; it would also be irresponsible.

For many of us, the incidents of the past week and the countless incidents that have preceded them cause trauma that affects every part of our lives and cannot be undone. Over the past days, weeks, years, and centuries, we have seen the lynching of people who look like those we love; we have been bombarded by the dehumanization of their deaths and lives. We say their names. We remember them.

George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Tony McDade. Robert Johnson Jr. Gregory Howe. Sean Reed. Ahmaud Arbery. And countless others…

It is not enough, however, for organizations with the platform to simply remember what has happened. We have a moral imperative to speak out and emphatically state our support for the movements beginning around the country and in Massachusetts, including this weekend’s protest which started just outside our Dudley Square campus in Nubian Square and ended at the Boston Common. Many of our staff and students participated in this protest, and we are proud to see the embodiment of our core values of Citizenship and Teacher Leadership in their actions.

On the first day of Pride Month, I think of how Stonewall – the inciting event of the Queer Liberation Movement – was a “riot.” We understand the despair, anger, and drive for justice and humanity that sparked this display of our communities’ collective power as changemakers. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “A riot is the language of the unheard.” 

We hear you. We see you. We will do what is in our power to help create a better world for our students. We will question, act, and avoid complacency in the face of oppression. We look forward to continuing to partner with you.

We want to share additional resources for those in our communities who may be struggling:

  • Our Mental Health Counselors are continuing to meet with students – if your student would like to connect with them, please contact their advisor or Ms.Pratt.
  • Headspace (mental health/meditation app) is offering free accounts to anyone who is unemployed or has an email address for a K-12 organization – learn more about headspace here.

We also want to share opportunities for allies and accomplices in anti-racism (adapted from @mireillecharper on Instagram):

  • Understanding what optical allyship is (defined as “allyship that only serves at the surface level to platform the ‘ally,’ it makes a statement but doesn’t go beneath the surface and is not aimed at breaking away from the systems of power that oppress”);
  • Check-in on your black friends, family, partners, loved ones and colleagues;
  • Be prepared to do the work (anti-racism is not easy work, and we must continuously re-commit to participation in it);
  • Read up on antiracist works;
  • Avoid sharing traumatic content (don’t share videos of brutalization without content warnings);
  • Donate to funds and support initiatives (Massachusetts Bail Fund; Minnesota Freedom Fund, Black Lives Matter – Boston Chapter; BAGLY Mental Health Fund for LGBTQ+ Youth);
  • Do not center this narrative around yourself;
  • Keep supporting after the outrage;
  • And, stop supporting organizations and people that promote hate.

Finally, as we continue in this work, we also want to acknowledge that our DICE work is not enough, and as we have stated in our OneCoaH Day conversations, this work is community work. If you have any feedback about our work, please feel free to reach out to me (jpina@cityonahill.org) or Kevin T. Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, at ktaylor@cityonahill.org.

In Solidarity,

Jordan Pina

Deputy Chief of Staff

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