To The Ossining Community:
We know how impactful Tuesday night’s verdict in the Derek Chauvin case was for our entire community and especially for our Black families, youth, staff, police, and community members. There has been and will continue to be a wave of emotions created by this verdict, as well as by the recent murders of Adam Toledo and Daunte Wright. We know that as a community, it is time to move beyond emotional reactions and statements, and instead leverage our community members of all ages, and the structures we have in place; our schools, government, policing and community volunteer equity task forces. It is time for leadership and time to dismantle racism and build new equitable structures in our community for generations to come.
Beyond the monumental verdict read last night, other acts of hate in our communities propel us to use this moment to act swiftly to, in the words of NYS Regents Chancellor, Lester W. Young Junior, “… address our long history of racism and bigotry, and the corrosive impact they have had on every facet of American life. A confluence of events has brought us to this point of reckoning, including:
- The senseless, brutal killing of Black and Brown men and women at the hands of law enforcement – and the ensuing demands for real and enduring racial justice in the face of this inhumanity;
- A dangerous spike in violence aimed at Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – fueled in part by lies that attempt to link the Asian community with the creation and spread of the Coronavirus;
- A renewed wave of discrimination and hateful rhetoric directed at those thought to be different or somehow “not quite” American, including (but not limited to) Jewish Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBTQ individuals, individuals with disabilities, immigrants and refugees, especially those arriving at the southern border.
- The terrible toll that COVID-19 has had on all our lives, communities, and school systems. The disproportionate impact of this pandemic has surfaced and further exacerbated long-standing educational inequities, predominantly impacting Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous and poor student populations and students with disabilities. Additionally, school closures and the resulting learning loss for our most marginalized students compound existing learning disparities, leading to the potential for poor life outcomes and lingering long-term effects.”
These national tragedies have combined to create a perfect storm – a storm that is powerful enough to propel us beyond the systemic racism that has come to define America’s institutions. This systemic racism pervades all aspects of our lives, including policing, education, healthcare, employment, housing, access to capital, and in almost every other conceivable realm. It limits our potential as individuals, as communities, and as a nation. There is no single, isolated answer that will solve these pervasive problems; rather, the approach must be holistic and inclusive…The way we educate new generations of students will shape our nation’s course for years to come.”
Chancellor Young’s statement comes on the heels of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle P. Walensky’s declaration of racism as a public health threat. According to Dr. David R. Williams, the discrimination that BIPOC members of our community experience daily weathers their health. As a community, we can and we must combat this discrimination.
While we use these tragedies as fuel to ignite the long-term work required to ensure equity in our community, we will also act immediately to:
- Provide supports to students, staff and families to cope personally with these recent events
- Provide resources to educators to support students to reckon with these events as part of their civic development
- Partner with one another to stand against racism
On behalf of our entire community, we thank you for your commitment to the challenging work that lies ahead.