February blog post by Dr. Roxanne Giampapa, Head of School
A violent verbal outpouring of raw emotion. This is how I want to express my disaffection about racial tensions and civil rights abuses in the United States right now.
That’s why we have the Declaration of Independence to much more persuasively remind us that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
That’s why we have great leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. to more eloquently inspire us when he says, “even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”
That’s why we have artists like Sam Cooke to more authentically give us hope when he sings, “It’s been a long time comin’ but I know a change is gonna come. Oh, yes it will.”
That’s why we have activists like Malcolm X to more clearly speak the unvarnished truth when he orates, “We are oppressed. We are exploited. We are downtrodden. We are denied not only civil rights but even human rights.”
That’s why we have writers like Zora Neale Hurston to more honestly disquiet and warn us when she says, “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.”
And, that’s why we have schools to educate us to be more purposefully diverse, equitable, and inclusive. Frankly, though, we can all do better.
In order to truly walk the talk as a school, we must work to be as informed as possible. This takes effort. Then, we must expose students to a wide range of ideas, experiences, and cultures, examine and challenge preconceptions, talk about injustice that’s happening then and now, and explore different ways of thinking and knowing…all in the safe space of our school. This takes commitment. These are actions that will move us closer to a world filled with global citizens who embrace differences and promote genuine respect for all.
So, let’s be clear. We do need to talk about Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile, Tamir Rice, and tragically, so many more. We need to talk about human rights.
Fortunately, educators are optimists. We believe that our contributions can make the world a better place (one Pinewood graduate at a time). At least, we are certainly going to make the effort and commitment to do our part. After all, educational institutions have a sort of noblesse oblige to labor for a time and place when the primal scream is no longer necessary.
Here’s a short video Dr. Giampapa put together of people who make the world a better place.
How many of these pioneering American heroes can you identify?