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.