This statement was made by our head of school, Karen Carney on May 25, 2020, in the wake of the Police killing of George Floyd.
Chicago Friends School is rooted in the fundamental Quaker idea there is “that of God” in everyone. This idea leads Quakers (and Quaker schools) to take seriously the worth of every person and work for peace, equality, and mutual respect. Our care for each other and for the community is sometimes realized in service, sometimes in peaceful conflict resolution, and sometimes in acts of care and love.
But in these last few days, we have been painfully reminded, yet again, that a peaceful, just and equal society is not the reality for us here in the United States. Injustice and prejudice harms the people of color in our communities, and in doing so, harms us all. Four hundred years of racism and white supremacy have warped our perceptions, our interactions, and the opportunities and economic realities around us.
It is easy, in difficult times like these, to feel pessimistic and helpless. But no one is helpless, and no future is set. As educators, our first job is to be hopeful. We work in hope that Chicago Friends School students can gain the skills, the discernment, and the openness of heart needed to bring about a better world.
As we all learn from home, remember that parents are always a child’s primary teachers. All of them, even the most uncommunicative middle schooler, is looking to parents to learn how to be. And so take a step, even a tiny one. Reach out, speak up, help a neighbor. They will do so too and feel empowered and hopeful. Also, talk to your kids. Tell them what you hope for the world. Show them how to help others and seek justice. Model honesty and accountability. They are looking to you for what to say, how to help. If they, and you, take a step, then we are one step closer to a better world.
If you need language or ideas about how to work for a less racist world, there are people and organizations that can help. Here are three.
In lieu of the civil unrest, we have chosen to create a scholarship to increase the racial and ethnic makeup of our student population. In honor of the civil rights leader Bayard Rustin.
Bayard Rustin Scholarship. This is a scholarship named for the civil rights leader who championed gay rights and a non-violent approach for change. He was instrumental in helping with MLK’s March on Washington and established the Freedom Riders, who helped disenfranchised citizens become registered voters in the south. In honoring Bayard Rustin, this scholarship is part of our strategic plan to increase the representation of traditionally underrepresented populations in independent schools. Preference is given to families with demonstrated financial need, or families for whom paying tuition presents a hardship. For more information on Bayard Rustin, click here
Chicago Friends School provides equal opportunity for all employees and applicants for employment regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or sex, except where sex or age is a bona fide occupational qualification.