During the last week of classes Oakwood held a special Candlelight Vigil and Silent Meeting to make space for students, faculty and families to collectively process the recent incidents of racial violence in our country. While we couldn't be together in the Meeting Room, we shared in powerful silence from our homes, near and far.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge the anger and hurt and pain many members of our community are experiencing this week. Once again, we are confronted with the very real impact that systemic racism has on Black America. While this has been reported with increased frequency these last weeks, it is a reality many members of our community must deal with every single day.
As we wrestle with the physical, mental, and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, we witness our country’s highest office continue to isolate, blame, and sow division and hatred. We struggle to communicate and support while separated by distance, ideology, ignorance and oppression. Grief and anger abound at the killings of George Floyd in Minnesota, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. And over the weekend in Central Park—right here in our own backyard—a white woman exercised her sense of privilege to call the police and allege that Christian Cooper, who had merely asked her to put her dog on a leash, was threatening her, pointedly emphasizing the fact that he was African American in her increasingly dramatic calls for help.
The Oakwood community strives towards a place of better understanding, love and equality. We hold those in the Light who are raising their voice and those that have no voice. Our Quaker values inform our learning. They remind us to live by Simplicity, Peace, Integrity, Community, Equality, and Service. We are called to speak out against racism and injustice when aimed at people in our community and in society.
At Oakwood, where our students are forever inspiring us with the work that they do to make a better world, moments like this feel particularly hard. To have to process this at a distance makes it even harder. Part of our mission is to help our students through these frightening and difficult times through opportunities to gather, listen, discuss, and process. We look forward to working together as we continue this work.
For people looking to inform themselves today, here are a few resources.
Talking to Children After Racial Incidents Penn Graduate School of Education interview with Howard Stevenson, PhD
George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children? - USA Today interview with Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD and Erlanger Turner, PhD
Helping Children Cope with Frightening News- Child Mind Institute, Harold S. Koplewicz, MD
Not My Idea, Anastasia HigginBotham (picture book about whiteness through a child’s eyes)
On behalf of the Faculty, Administration and Staff at Oakwood,
Head of School