||GRADE 7 SCRATCH BOARD ART
Dear Seattle Waldorf School Community,
Over the past three months we have communicated regularly about the public health emergency we face with coronavirus. Now we must shift our attention, with equal urgency and a call to action, to another more pervasive and enduring crisis in our community and in our country -- 400 years of systemic racism and oppression that perpetuated the deaths of innocent Black and Brown people. George Floyd, Amaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner... the list is long and heartbreaking, and now includes Manny Ellis just 40 miles south of our school. These names represent fathers, sons, mothers, and daughters whose lives were taken by police, largely due to their being Black. Their deaths are just the tip of an iceberg of long-standing racist and at times murderous treatment of Black and Brown people at the hands of police and power structures that have denied their worth. These Black lives were taken from this earth with impunity and callousness. We grieve for their families and friends, and are filled with outrage, anger, and sorrow.
Yet we recognize that sadness and outrage are not enough. At the foundation of Waldorf education lies the mission of social renewal. We are at a critical point to demonstrate our moral consciousness and stamina for the difficult conversations and dedicated action that is necessary to dismantle systemic racism. As a Waldorf school, we hold the dignity of life and the human being at the center of our work. It is our responsibility to bear witness to what is happening in the world, to elevate the voices of marginalized people, to change the course of inequities, and to break down structural prejudice in all forms where it exists, particularly in Waldorf education. We must commit, as individuals and as a community, to do this hard work, in our classrooms, parent evenings, faculty circles, and Board meetings every single day. It is hard and we will make mistakes. Human lives, including our children's, depend on how we respond in this moment. We are the models for our children, and they look to us to show them the way forward. We are all leaders and the justice that we long for requires collective action and coordinated efforts. Silence is not an option.
"Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek."
- Former President Barack Obama
As a Board, we are devoting additional resources in our budget, including dedicated staffing, and will be forming a permanent Board-level committee to focus on implicit and explicit racism at our school and the changes we need to make. We will be successful at healing the wounds of our community only to the extent that we scrutinize and rework every aspect of our school's culture, curriculum, systems, and procedures that contribute to the oppression and marginalization of people of color. This is not to reject Waldorf traditions or pedagogy, but to strengthen them through reform, so that Waldorf education can continue to serve the world and everyone in our community.
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SWS Diversity Statement
At Seattle Waldorf School we are committed to creating a community that is inclusive for all faculty, staff, families, and students, especially those who have been impacted by racism and oppression, and to create a culture that supports racial equity by changing our existing systems and practices.
(Working Statement of Commitment by Equity Advisory Group and Parent/Faculty Equity Committee)
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Below are resources for action and education (there are many others) -- we hope that you will speak out against injustice and oppression in ways that are meaningful for you and your family. People of color, and especially Black people in this nation, in this city, and in Seattle Waldorf School are hurting. This past week, throughout the nation, citizens have come together in more than 300 cities across the U.S. in unprecedented numbers to peacefully protest the systemic violence against Black and Brown bodies. This level of peaceful action has never happened before. We can't move forward by turning away from the pain, as hard as it is to witness. And, we can't move forward by sitting in judgment of actions we would not take ourselves.
"The arc of the moral universe is long," King said, "but it bends toward justice." That arc will only bend if we are the ones to apply the pressure. Our personal clarity about this moment as a pivot point in our evolving history is necessary. Commit to the personal work of understanding your position, privilege and role. We will need courage and dedication if we are to create real and lasting change.
That is the urgency. Now is the time.