It is a heartbreaking and difficult time in America. Sitting at my desk, I struggle to find words that are adequate in expressing the pain, anger, and frustration I feel for our country and the GSB community at the tragic death of yet another unarmed African-American person. This time it was George Floyd last week in Minneapolis. The all-too-common violence and threats of violence enacted against African-Americans and other communities of color continue to occur in our country with maddening frequency. Sorrow weighs heavily on members of our community; we are grieving over the inhumanity, injustice, and senselessness of his death. As a direct result, a number of protests have occurred around the country, including last night in Morristown and Newark. America is hurting and it is important for us to come together and agree that the violence must stop.
I write to express my solidarity with members of our Gill community who are African-American, representing families, students, alumni, faculty, and staff. At Gill, 27% of our students are students of color, and we value the diversity that exists at our school. As a community of teachers, students, alumni, and parents, we stand against hate, racism, violence, and discrimination. We strive for excellence in this area, even though we may fall short at times. As a school, we know that our actions must go beyond merely celebrating diversity. We must commit to engage in ongoing conversations about race, with the goal of removing barriers that contribute to systemic inequities in ways that are positive and constructive. Everyone deserves compassion, empathy, and human kindness.
A shocking demonstration of racism and the protests that have followed are now being displayed on screens everywhere. It will not go away. This moment in history is a call to action, a call to demonstrate our respect for diversity and inclusion in the GSB community. In this way, we may better recognize root causes of inequity and support those experiencing it.
These issues will be addressed in the curriculum and programs for our students, and with professional development for our faculty and staff. It should and will remain a central part of what we do. Tracey Goodson Barrett, our Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, will be coordinating our work in this area with the help of our three Equity & Inclusion Liaisons in both the Middle and Lower School: Montana Vasquez-Grinnell, Cendahl Cornellio-Alter, and Julie Jurken. We welcome your ideas and suggestions as we chart our course in these uncertain times.
Our deepest condolences go out to the family of Mr. George Floyd and to those others who have lost loved ones to violence, including the families of Ms. Breonna Taylor in Louisville and Mr. Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia. While I cannot even begin to understand their loss, I pray that we may learn from it. My hope is that, as an intentional community, we will do our best to be part of the solution moving forward.
Gill St. Bernard’s is a private, coeducational day school for students age three through grade 12, located in suburban New Jersey. Each of the three school divisions provides a rigorous, meaningful, and age-appropriate curriculum, and all students benefit from the environmental learning opportunities that exist on our 208-acre campus.