This is the fourth draft I have written in four days. Each day, more public pronouncements on race and hate and history find their place in mainstream and social media. Several of you asked me about a Words of Faith posting on the topic of racism. This is not new territory for us. After much reflection, I have concluded that there is no statement to issue.
The position of The Scholarship Foundation was evident in our actions long before last weekend. Scan our website and social media feeds for the last several years and you will find words, programs, policy positions, and people who make clear our collective position in opposition to anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, and xenophobia. Even if we were shy on these matters, our students demand and deserve clarity from us. They expect us to be who we say we are.
Don’t misread me. We have work to do. We’re not good enough at talking with each other about our differences in perspective. We aren’t sure who to trust. We want leadership to craft a vision but we get uncomfortable when that vision challenges. And we don’t listen very well.
On Monday I baked fresh peach cobbler for a staff meeting, but even so it was awkward. After cutting the cobbler, we shared personal reactions to the weekend’s horror in Charlottesville. We asked ourselves what racism has to do with our work at The Scholarship Foundation. I offer you these responses from our meeting because they are true, contradictory, and rich in the experiences of a diverse staff.
Racism is ignorance, fear.
Education is an answer.
Students will feel isolated, newly fearful.
Our role is to support them.
Racial and cultural isolation are not good.
Exposure and unlearning are tools.
Admissions and financial aid are embedded with racism, bias.
We can challenge assumptions and false equivalencies.
We can work to dismantle.
Our leadership may be perpetuating racism unknowingly.
Racism can be (and most times is) a conscious choice.
Education may not answer that.
Some characteristics are too deep to undo.
Accept. Shut it down.
People must be willing to change.
Weak-minded people “group think.”
Quiet, polite, invisible racism is as dangerous as the hooded, aggressive type.
Racism is perpetuated in all our systems; it intersects with our work.
ASK THE QUESTION.
You can expect to hear more from us, but more importantly you can expect to continue to see the results of our convictions in the accomplishments of our students and the strengthening of our community. Call me (314-932-6923) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your thoughts. Then, as we move forward, we will make a strong statement together.
– Faith Sandler