By Executive Director Paul Stein
The National Hurricane Center has predicted that this year will be an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Emergency management efforts have been complicated by the COVID-19 crisis and many officials are scrambling to develop new plans that will be both responsive to the catastrophe at hand while keeping people safe.
At Schools for Children and nationwide, we find ourselves right smack in the middle of a hurricane of a different sort, one that has been driven not by the weather, but by a climate of long standing racial injustice. Weather, as we know, speaks to the day-to-day condition of the atmosphere, whereas climate takes the long view over time. And over the long run, our country has failed to address this oppressive climate and failed to keep people safe – as this past week’s news from Minneapolis and beyond clearly attests to.
Being responsive to the catastrophe at hand while keeping our students safe is our challenge. Doing so during a pandemic, in our secluded places, as we await the ability to come together in person as a community, makes this that much more difficult.
How do we offer solidarity and solace in such times? As educators, we are positioned to make a difference. Each step we take to help our students make sense of the world, to understand history and privilege, to come to a better understanding of their identity and an appreciation of the identity of others, to empower them as agents of change, and to teach them the importance of being an ally, an upstander, a voice – makes a difference.
In the midst of what seems a national awakening about race and racism, we are celebrating Pride Month, a time that commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots and, importantly, celebrates with pride the achievements and contributions of the LGBTQ+ community.
It reminds me that even in the face of poisonous attitudes and swirling hurricanes, confronting prejudice with pride can help cut through the despair. It is part of our calling as educators at Schools for Children.