June 19, 2020 Message to Members
Words don’t often fail me, but I have struggled to process the brutal racist events that we have all witnessed in these past weeks. While there have been fleeting moments of hope in the horror, I have felt disbelief that this level of hate, violence and inequity exists in 2020. And in facing and acknowledging those feelings, I realize how naïve I am, and that my life as a white man in Canada has been worlds away from what many citizens of the world experience. I know that I am an ally, but I know I can be a more vocal ally.
Do I understand my own privilege, and what it means to balance both listening and speaking out? In my ongoing pursuit of equity, has my scope been too narrow in addressing systemic fairness? These are the complex thoughts that fill my head, as an educator and a leader, as a colleague, friend, father, and husband.
As educators, we have a duty to build a future without racism, to talk to our K-12 kids about inequities, to give context to history, to listen to their thoughts and fears, and to teach them to speak up and speak out. We have a responsibility to prevent our students and ourselves from seeing diversity as something that is limited to a special day here, or a highlighted month there, but rather to see it as part of their lives and ours every day. We are fast to act in crisis, and equally fast to return to our former ways in the aftermath. For many of us, this will be a move beyond silence – and that may feel uncomfortable – but we are beyond concerns about our own comfort when our own colleagues, staff and students may be suffering. This is who we want to be.
As an Association, we represent 2600 member voices. We pledge to bolster our diversity education and advocacy, to better empower our youth leaders through BC Student Voice, and to ensure that we both listen to and advocate for our members who may themselves be experiencing racism and bias.
As individuals and as an Association, we can demonstrate that being #DifferentTogether is our strength. The events of the past weeks have awoken a sleeping and often reluctant world to huge inequity, and we must do our part to grow our personal and system awareness, be informed, be reflective and most of all to take action when we witness racism. This is where a more compassionate journey begins, for all of us.
PS: There are many resources that will help you to better understand where we are in history and where we want to be. This link that has helped me immensely: Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man