Mercer Island School District (MISD) Superintendent Donna Colosky released a statement Monday (June 1) evening in response to the wave of police-brutality protests that have followed the May killing of George Floyd by an officer.
“The events of this past week cannot be met with silence,” Colosky wrote. “The death of George Floyd that led to the protests across our nation cannot be ignored. If we let this week go by and do not take the time and opportunity to have direct and open conversations about race with our children, then that is a shame.”
Colosky noted that it isn’t enough for white people to say that they aren’t racist.
“That is too neutral and passive,” she wrote. “It must be about being anti-racist.”
Colosky added that the district aims to acknowledge cycles of racism and hate and help guide students. But she acknowledged that “we all have biases based on our life experiences.”
“We must continue to navigate these differences to better understand each other and our worlds and advocate for a better, more equitable future,” she wrote. “We must continue to build a school culture that is anti-racist and anti-hate. It is important that we recognize that racism is deeply and historically rooted in our nation and we must commit to actively work to change this. We need to help our children understand what is going on in the streets, on the news and on social media as a response to racially charged incidents by having much-needed discussion around implicit bias and systemic racism.”
She said that while some parents might consider conversations about race with their children difficult, it is key to “be brave and vulnerable. Justice and anti-racism start with conversations at home.”
In the statement, Colosky invoked what the district has in place to address racism and diversity, including District Fundamental Goal 7 (“Foster and embrace diversity, inclusiveness and equity, with a focus on respect and acceptance of every student”), its Superintendent Equity Advisory and individual school equity teams and its equity and diversity policy.
Colosky additionally included a link to Embrace Race to potentially assist with discussions.
The superintendent looked to the future and brought up additional resources in the statement’s closing.
“As we finish out the final days of this disrupted and challenging school year, we will continue to dedicate our work in support of our students during this crisis of the COVID pandemic and now more importantly, bravely working to be an anti-racist organization,” Colosky wrote. “To assist in the conversation, please know that our school counselors and MI [Youth and Family Services] counselors are available to our students to listen and support. Every child and adult in our community should be safe, seen, valued and dignified. Let’s work together to make sure that all of our students have the support they need to be successful.”
To read the statement in full, go to the MISD’s website.