Dear partners and friends,
We feel grief, anger, and outrage at the deepening national strife caused by the senseless loss of George Floyd, one of so many Black people lost at the hands of authorities. We extend care and solidarity to the partners, students, families, and communities we serve that are experiencing heartbreak, fear, and trauma as they process Mr. Floyd’s death. We stand in solidarity with communities of color who work to dismantle systems of oppression because true freedom is dependent on their liberation.
I am sickened by the police brutality and the brutal loss of life we have witnessed over and over again. It is gut-wrenching and heartbreaking. At ANet, my colleagues and I have heard from our partners across the country that they are committed to doing unprecedented work to combat the inequities their students face. We know that police brutality, unemployment, and COVID-19 disproportionately affect people of color, including in our own ANet community. And we believe dismantling the racist systems endemic to our national structures is the only way to recognize the basic humanity, ensure the safety, and realize the potential of every Black and Brown child and adult.
As educators, our work in equity and anti-racism demands that we look not only at these systems, but at ourselves. We must take bold action to ensure justice for Black students, families, educators, and communities. As we work toward this goal together, I want to share with you some of our partners’ reflections and commitments as well as my own.
The principal of Shaker Heights High School in Ohio wrote a letter to his community in response to the killing of George Floyd, and this letter inspired me to share a personal reflection with you. As ANet’s white CEO, I have been on a journey to deepen my compassion for people of color—people whose lived experience includes things I’ve never had to think about. This journey has been wrought with personal mistakes, realizations of ways I’ve previously failed my own staff, and recognition of a disconnect between our more technical work and our work with partners to help them understand the purpose beneath the data. It has been an ongoing process for years, fueled by calls to action by courageous people of color on our staff. They have helped me understand that being “not racist” is nowhere near enough as we work together to dismantle the immense systemic barriers in our educational system and our country.
Racism and other forms of oppression continue to prevent students of color from experiencing equitable instruction. These systems of oppression do not stop at the schoolhouse door—they directly impact employees in our organization. Across the past seven years at ANet we have committed ourselves to anti-racism: dismantling systems of oppression by addressing structural, institutional, and interpersonal racism.
In this moment, we have the opportunity to break down systems of racism and oppression that harm our students. We have the opportunity to deepen our anti-racist journeys both personally and as educators. We have the opportunity to provide transformational leadership and contribute to radical change.
I am grappling with many emotions as I look for ways we can take action that will meet the magnitude of this moment. But for communities of color this pain is not new—it is not just a moment. That is why we must focus on creating enduring change. At ANet, we’ve been engaging in these conversations and taking action as an organization for seven years. Here, you’ll find a statement of what ANet is doing and our anti-racist policy if you would like to learn more about this ongoing work.
Below are just a few things our partners shared with their school communities that inspired us this week. I hope they also inspire you as we all strive to do more and commit actively to anti-racism.
—Mora Segal, ANet CEO
LEADERSHIP FOCUSED ON CHANGE
“[W]e believe in equality and justice, and we stand with the Black community. We will strive to stand against any acts of racism, cruelty, intolerance, or injustice. We will use our voices and our platform to affect positive change, encourage healing, and promote thoughtful action as we move forward.” —Great Oaks Legacy Charter School
“Springfield Public Schools administrators have been engaged in some difficult work around the stinging issue of race. Personally, I have learned some hard truths about white privilege and what it means. I understand the importance of using my status to help elevate the demand for justice and reform. I try to walk that path and in that light. As a school district, we will not back away from the work on diversity and inclusion that we have started. My commitment is to work harder than ever before because the need for change becomes stronger every day.” —Daniel J. Warwick, Springfield Public Schools
BUILDING A SAFE SPACE TO TAKE COLLECTIVE ACTION
“I would like to actively hear from you about how we can come together as a staff during this time to hold space to talk and to process and determine how to reach out to our students proactively. I want to hear from you about how we can hold space for our students and parents to have their voices heard. Please reach out with your ideas.” —Megan Moilanen, ACE High School
RECOGNIZING AND EMPOWERING OUR STUDENTS
“In light of what's happening within this country and has been going on throughout history, I wanted to shine on two students [...] who are using their voices as a platform for Black and Brown youth to discuss peace, justice, and effects of this pandemic. As protests are growing in numbers across this country, response to the ongoing injustice against Black people, I'd like to shine on Jayla Fudge and Aniya Gordon-Ellis, who created a youth program called The Pandemic Diary for students who are dealing with COVID-19 and racial inequality that are happening within this country. I learned of their program during our Global Arts Final Art Project Presentation on the impact of COVID-19 and was blown away!” —Sophia Domeville, Great Oaks Legacy Charter School
For more resources on anti-racism and dismantling bias, please visit our Resource Hub.