May 29, 2020
Dear Moses Brown Community,
The recent killing of Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia and George Floyd in Minnesota have left me, like so many others, groping for words and understanding. Even more painful than the loss of these individual lives is the knowledge that they are part of a familiar pattern in our society – a pattern in which people of color are repeatedly denied the right to be safe and to be free from discrimination and disrespect.
As a white male, I have the privilege of going about my daily life largely unaware of my race and unconcerned about violence against me. I can expect to safely cross a public park or go on a run through my neighborhood without having to account for my actions. But these same activities can be fraught with danger for people of color. For many, that daily burden of anxiety is further exacerbated by the disproportionate and devastating toll that COVID-19 is taking on communities of color.
In my role as Head of School, I know I cannot address all tragedies. But the horror of these stories, and the impact they are having on our community, lead me to speak out. These tragic events are not distant from our work here at Moses Brown. They affect us directly. Many Moses Brown students, parents, faculty and staff are suffering from these violent reminders that their lives are not protected from the consequences of ignorance and hatred. Members of our very own community are experiencing trauma and fear for their loved ones’ lives.
Those who have the privilege of safety cannot turn away or simply watch from the sidelines. Quakers and Quaker institutions have a long history of championing human rights and racial equality, including our namesake, Moses Brown. As the current stewards of his school, we must take a stand against racism and do everything in our power to combat its legacy of violence and discrimination.
Across the school this week, our diversity committees and affinity groups have been compiling and sharing resources to help our community members take action. I’d like to encourage everyone to read a thoughtful essay by Dr. Taharee Jackson entitled “
I’m White and I’m Outraged by Ahmaud Arbery’s Murder. Now What?”
I also invite anyone who is concerned about these recent events to join me and our Director of Friends Education, Jen McFadden, in a virtual meeting for sharing and reflection on Monday, June 1 at 5:00 pm (Zoom link:
Quakers have long found that taking time for shared reflection can offer renewed energy and conviction for the work ahead. We hope you will join us.
As we focus on bringing this unusual school year to a successful conclusion, it is right and important for us to acknowledge this situation, and to express our support for all those struggling against the injustice of racism and the threat of violence. And to the families of color in the Moses Brown community, please know that we see you, we are here for you, and we want to continue to listen, learn and act. As MB’s Head of School, I am committed to doing all that I can to understand and relieve the awful burden you are bearing.
Please join me in holding in the Light all those impacted by these tragedies.
With a heavy heart,
Head of School