A statement from our Director, Dr. Alan Knobloch:
The ISD Administration, faculty, staff, and Board of Trustees fully condemn and do not tolerate racism, injustice, and violence of any kind. The tragic murder of George Floyd is unfortunately just the latest killing of unarmed Black people. Acts of systematic racism must stop; we all need to consciously take action to prevent them in the future. We support peaceful freedom of expression and encourage all members of our community, students, parents, staff, and alumni to stand up and support the Black community. ISD is committed to consciously take action to end racism on our campus and in our community. Black lives matter.
I am stunned and horrified by the numbers of Black people being killed by police officers and private citizens. I am scared that a member of our community or an alumnus could be killed in the same way. My first question is why? Why are you treating a fellow human being this way? In short, the answer is white supremacy. The killers in these videos are racist and believe Black people are less than they are. My second question is how? How did these people get this way? Children are not born with racist beliefs these beliefs are learned over time.
Sadly, for many children of color, school is no respite from the racism they encounter elsewhere. For some, it may even be a place where they do not feel safe or do not feel encouraged to be fully themselves. We cannot allow this to be the case at ISD. ISD will take an active role first in understanding better and then in taking action against racism. I want all of our children, parents, faculty, and staff to feel safe here, and to be able to express their best selves, in all the diversity that makes up our community.
Human beings are not inherently racist. Children are not born with racist beliefs, but racism has persisted through time because it is insidious, working on all of us in both conscious and unconscious ways. We here at ISD acknowledge our own struggles with diversity, inclusion, and fairness. While we have started to formally address diversity and inclusion this past year, we re-commit to examining our own culture and behavior in order to make meaningful change to address any racist or biased practices that exist in our community.
In a recent email to ISD administrators, Mariam-Alisa Fané, an ISD student, wrote the following call to action. “The sad truth is that we are a very diverse school but still share classrooms with students that aren’t aware of their privilege and are ignorant when it comes to systemic racism. This is the time where we need the school to speak up and educate the students that make racist comments and don‘t fight injustice because they were never taught any better.” We all need to take action through education and engagement - myself included - in order to learn and understand the roots of systematic racism which has unfortunately continued to deprive Black men and women of their lives.
Change will begin with listening and learning. While we are nearing the end of this school year, we cannot wait to act.
1. Sharing - All students, parents, staff, and alumni are invited to share their experiences with racism, their thoughts and emotions at this time, and their hopes for the future. The sharing can be done through written stories, videos, photos, poems, or artwork. The submissions will be posted for the community to read and view. It is up to each of us to first listen and then seek greater knowledge about racism both inside and outside our community. Please send submissions to Blacklivesmatter@isd.sn.
2. Educating – A list of resources; videos, articles, podcasts, books, and websites will be compiled and shared with the community on a regular basis throughout the summer with recommended resources highlighted. More information will be shared soon.
3. Stand Up – We encourage all members of our community to stand up, protest against injustice, and support the Black community. This can be done by attending demonstrations and rallies, donating your money or time, being politically active, and supporting Black-owned businesses. Community members are encouraged to send photos or videos from their efforts to stand up to Blacklivesmatter@isd.sn.
4. Listening – Current and past students will be invited to share in writing what they think the school should do to combat racism on campus. Students will have the option to submit their ideas anonymously if they wish. The Board’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the Administration will use these ideas to develop concrete action plans for moving forward.
ISD truly believes Black lives matter, and we will strive to ensure that those words are reflected in the actions and experiences of our students, parents, administration, faculty, and staff. Below are some of the steps we will take; the list will be further developed and new actions will be added as we listen and learn.
Required professional development for all staff on identifying and overcoming implicit bias.
Continue to hire Black educators as well as other teachers of color as we strive to make our faculty as diverse as our student body.
Create forums to listen to the experiences of our community and discuss how to make changes to rid our campus of racism and discrimination.
Critically examine our policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that all staff members, their voices, and their contributions are valued and respected.
As an educational institution, we can only achieve our mission if our students are empowered to confront racism in their own lives.