A Pre-K to Grade 12 Independent Quaker Day School Serving the Greater Durham-Chapel Hill Area

A response to the murder of George Floyd and other victims of systemic racism

[This statement originally went out as part of a message to families and staff on May 31, 2020.]

This week our country was confronted with yet another horrific tragedy, the violent murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. Carolina Friends School deeply mourns the loss of George Floyd and the countless other victims of systemic racism that we must name and remember: Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Atatiana Jefferson, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Renisha McBride, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, and too many others. As a Quaker school, we believe in the unique, inner light of each individual. Whenever anyone's light is extinguished prematurely in the face of an unjust system, we are called to speak out.

While we all mourn in this moment, we recognize that there are members of our community for whom the events of these past few weeks have been especially taxing. The cumulative impact of racism can be devastating and overwhelming for black, brown, and multi-racial families. We at CFS stand in solidarity with all members of our community, and we recognize that recent events are a brutal reminder of the work we all must continue to do.

As we each process and respond to this most recent tragedy, we hope that this will also cause us to closely examine the layers of systemic racism and inequality laid bare over these past few months as we see communities of color most negatively impacted by the soaring unemployment rate, COVID-19 infections and deaths, and the occupations declared essential and thus most dangerous for workers. This is a prime opportunity for collective reflection that moves us to fundamentally shift our society toward justice, equity, and inclusion.

From its founding, Carolina Friends School has served to address racial injustice. We understand this moment to be a call to actively work to examine, confront, and dismantle systemic racism and white supremacy culture. We are committed to eradicating these harmful systems within our school culture and our educational practices, so we can best teach our students to recognize and disrupt these harmful systems. We acknowledge that in order to "teach our children that it is possible to change the world" we must provide them with the tools they need to respond to injustice. As Nelson Mandela says, "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

Here is a link to resources for exploring and engaging in discussions about race and justice, as well as resources for providing social and emotional support during this time. We hope these will help provide our community with a foundation for substantive engagement that leads to greater societal reform and transformation.

Holding us all the Light,

Karen Cumberbatch, Head of School

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