I include an email sent to students and staff on Monday. We held a moment of silence and encouraged everyone to complete a random act of kindness. Although a small gesture, it is needed to counter a national discourse that often can be described as divisive, but more alarming are attempts to normalize rhetoric that is insulting, bigoted, racist, and anti-Semitic. Words are damaging enough, but there are frightful consequences when words turn into action. The Mayor of Pittsburgh characterized the events on Monday as, "the darkest day of Pittsburgh's history." Another sad and tragic day.
Monday, 29 October
Dear Students & Staff,
We live in an era of endless tragic news reports. With the consistent inundation of horrific news updates in our 24-hour news cycle, it is possible to become desensitized to the senseless killings. Last Wednesday a man tried to enter a predominately black church only to be thwarted by a locked door. He shot and killed two innocent people in a Kroger's store in what appears to be a hate crime. Prominent Democrats were targeted with explosives for their affiliation with a political party. Saturday's shooting at a Synagogue in Pittsburgh claimed the lives of 11 people and injured six more including four police officers. It goes without saying that all murder is horrible, but killing in a school or place of worship is an attack on all of us. Places where innocent people gather as part of a community to learn, or places where people gather to promote peace and to worship together. Members of the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh where attending a baby naming ceremony.
Students and staff of color and Jewish students and staff may be dealing with emotions of fear and anxiety today. We have witnessed a steady increase in hate crimes according to the Anti Defamation League. The Charlottesville rally was alarming and eye-opening for many of us, and two hate crime-related murders in Kentucky and Pittsburgh occurred in less than a week. Students, staff, and families are undoubtedly shaken by these events, and it serves as an unnerving reminder that life is fragile, that life is precious, that life can be taken in an instant, and evil exists in the world, and people want to do bodily harm and murder because of one's race, or political affiliation, or sexual orientation, or religious beliefs, or some other "we" vs. "they" category that devalues life and fails to recognize our collective humanity.
We need to support each other in difficult times and encourage those impacted to get help and utilize systems of support both at school and outside of school. We need to take care of each other and wake up every day with the intention of contributing to the well-being of others." This mantra is important every day but desperately needed in times such as this.
Following the Pledge of Allegiance tomorrow we will hold a moment of silence to honor those lost. I encourage everyone to stand against hate and complete a random act of kindness tomorrow.