Please read this all-staff message from Superintendent Susan Enfield about becoming an anti-racist community.
Like many of you, the stark reality of racism and injustice in our nation is weighing heavily on me. The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor remind us yet again of the inequities that Black and brown people in our society live with every day. The pain of these unjust killings only adds to the disproportionate impacts of the coronavirus pandemic: higher rates of illness, death and financial hardship among people of color. In a conversation with fellow superintendents yesterday I said that the pandemic now feels like the backdrop for the real crisis that is racism in our country.
I stand with all who are grieving. Yet words of compassion and solidarity are not enough. We must act. We must all confront our nation’s history, so we can change our children’s future. We must find new ways to deliver on our promise to know every student by name, strength and need so that every one of them knows they are worthy, valued and important. We must be willing to hear uncomfortable truths and then have the courage and will to change our own behaviors and beliefs.
Our equity policy states that “Highline seeks to be a leader in being an anti-racist organization focused on eliminating racism, racial and other identity inequities, and institutional bias.” As I reflected on this over the weekend I came to the realization that I have allowed our focus on equity to prevent us from more clearly and boldly addressing racism. That changes today.
In the coming weeks, we will provide opportunities for students and staff to come together, virtually, to share their fears, frustrations and ideas for how we put our policy into practice and become a true anti-racist organization. We will also make this the focus of our equity symposium in August. I invite you to share with me any suggestions you have as well.
Over the weekend I reached out to a number of people and asked what they needed to hear from me, as their superintendent, right now. Gil Parsons said, “leaders need to hear that they will be supported and trained to implement the demands of anti-racist action.” He then added this from his daughter, “children need to hear that their needs will be centered and their voices will be heard and elevated.” I promise that we will do this and more.
Amidst the pain and anger that I am feeling now, I also have tremendous hope. If there is a district and community that can come together and forge an anti-racist path moving forward it is Highline. I remain proud and grateful to live, lead and serve our children alongside you.
Susan Enfield, Ed.D.
Highline Public Schools