Dear DLSA community,
As I write this, our world is experiencing sickness, pain, mourning, anger, and deprivation; our world is figuratively and literally on fire.
As is often the case, moments of crisis reveal to us not new problems, but rather they expose and bring to the surface previously existing tensions, conflicts, and contradictions ailing our society. We currently find ourselves at a crossroads where we can struggle to piece together a “new normal” or we can work courageously to create a new world.
As a community of learners and educators, we must take seriously our roles as servant leaders in an effort to create a new world. We must not lead by telling those in pain how they should act, think, and feel. Rather our first call is to listen to those who are closest to the suffering and trauma.
The forms of anti-Black racism surrounding the most recent deaths and near-deaths of Black persons in the U.S. highlight perhaps one of the most central questions an educational community can ask: What does it mean to be human? For too long we know how history and the society at present has answered this question and has excluded many communities from accessing resources, rights, and opportunities. How we, as a school, answer this question should in part drive why we learn what we learn, and in turn how we act. Specifically, it will mean that we have to do the difficult work of questioning the world as it is, while also imagining what this world could be otherwise. What kinds of teaching, learning, and leadership does a world on fire need?
The road ahead will not be easy or straightforward. The path towards justice and solidarity means doing the work to address the root causes of the harm caused and unpack the many ways we benefit from the current injustices of the world. The work of freedom requires us to build the power and capacity to simultaneously fight an unjust world and create the world we all deserve. I emphasize “all” because our basic human rights should never depend on our capacity to dress, to speak, or look a certain way to prove ourselves worthy of humanity.
Let us instead focus our efforts on listening meaningfully to and incorporating the voices, experiences, resources, and perspectives of communities that are marginalized. This means being intentional and taking on the responsibility to include these marginalized communities in spaces, decisions, and positions of shared power to enact the changes towards a more just world.
I pray that this current moment is in fact a birth by fire of the world that we so desperately need.
Live love in our hearts,
Angel Rubiel Gonzalez, Ph.D. ’99