Dear Team and Family,
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with the senseless murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery over the past few weeks, many areas of our country are rightfully brimming with frustration.
At KIPP Delta, our heart breaks for these families, and our thoughts and prayers are with them and our country as a whole. We know that our students, families, and African American colleagues are disproportionately affected by the same systemic racism and injustices that took George Floyd’s and Ahmaud Arbery’s lives, along with many more African American men, women and children whose names have and haven’t reached the headlines. These horrible acts of racial terrorism cannot continue, and we must not allow them to.
We stand with all those protesting racial injustices. We, too, call for justice, for an end to police brutality, and the end of the systemic dehumanization of African American people. The KIPP mission statement starts with the words, “Together with families and communities,” and ends with the words, “to build a more just world.” While recent events cause these words to resonate profoundly, none of what is happening is new. We must not rest until these aspirational words are the lived reality of our students, our families, and our colleagues. KIPP Delta Public Schools is committing to ongoing social justice action internally and externally.
At KIPP Delta, we believe in honoring the humanity of all people irrespective of their ethnicity, gender, class, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, or the choices they make to think, behave or believe differently from us. Indeed, a significant part of one’s humanity and freedom is the right to choose the path that a person deems best for themselves. As a result, we at KIPP Delta choose to honor the humanity of all people and to extend to them the love, kindness, respect, care, and hospitality that we desire to be treated with ourselves.
To help operationalize these principles, we are acting in the following ways.
- Beginning in September, we will form a Regional Educational Equity and Diversity Committee (REED Committee) that will explore how we can: 1) properly infuse the teaching of anti-racism pedagogy into our curriculum, 2) further build out our character education program, so that we are proactively preparing our students as global citizens who will, unfortunately, but likely encounter some hostility in life due to their ethnicity, class, and culture, and 3) begin the process of reviewing our policies and procedures to ensure that they are equitable and aligned to our Core Values and Beliefs.
- We will begin conversations with leaders in our communities about the systems of oppression that exist locally and how we can engage and partner with them to address these issues.
- We will ensure that our Team and Family, including our leadership, reflect the communities we serve.
- We will double-down on our commitment to expanding the diversity and local representation of our Board of Directors, recruiting 1 – 2 local board members of color in the 2020-21 School Year.
- We will ensure that our students and staff of color have outlets to talk about their experiences and feelings by creating listening circles and expanding safe access to counseling.
- We will create spaces for our white Team members and leaders to provide culturally appropriate support and to hold themselves accountable for their growth and education around social justice, what being white anti-racist looks, sounds and feels like, and reliably acting in solidarity with their colleagues of color.
While these actions will not eliminate racism and injustice in our country, they are action steps that move KIPP Delta Public Schools toward becoming a more just, equitable, and welcoming environment for all of our students, families, and colleagues.
Additionally, we have compiled a set of quality resources that will help you care for your self and others during this season and equip you with language and lens to both begin to name, identify and decode systemic racism and the destructive and dehumanizing ideologies that accompany it. In the spirit of love and care for our Team and Family, we offer the following resources:
Communicating with your students and children about what is happening around them:
- Parent Tool Kit
- Talking with children about racism, police brutality, and protests
- Spoken Word – how to talk to kids about police violence
- Talking to kids about race and police violence
- How to talk to your kids about race, racism and police violence
- George Floyd. Ahmaud Arbery. Breonna Taylor. What do we tell our children?
- How to talk to your children about protests and racism
Movies & Documentaries
- The Hate You Give
- Just Mercy
- 13th (Netflix)
- When They See Us (Netflix)
- “The New Jim Crow”
- “I’m Still Here: Black Dignity In A World Made For Whiteness” – Austin Channing Brown
- “Between the World and Me” – Ta-Nehisi Coates
- “Insider/Outsider” – Bryan Loritts
- “Their Eyes Were Watching God” – Zora Neale Hurston
- “The Warm of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration” – Isabel Wilkerson
- “Invisible Man” – Ralph Ellison
- “Code Switch” – NPR
- “Talks Society and Culture” – TED Talks
- “Hope & Hard Pills” Footnotes with Jemar Tisby Truth’s Table
Please know that our doors are open and accept this letter as an invitation to reach out to our Team with any questions you may have.
Grace and Peace,
William Hill, Incoming Executive Director & Carissa Godwin Holsted, Interim Executive Director