Dear Unite Summit Family,
We write in solidarity with the Black community and the fight for justice and liberation. We stand in solidarity with George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and others that have been killed by racist violence. It is impossible to separate their murders from the systemic racism and oppression that is embedded within our country. We stand with those fighting injustice.
Teachers, students, and community members are grieving, angered, and in pain. We believe that in making a commitment to anti- bias, anti-racist work, we have work to do as a staff and organization. We acknowledge that because bias and racism are entrenched in society, today and every day moving forward we must use our roles to address racial and social justice. Within professional development, curriculum, and at our sites and larger community, we must specifically respect and support our Black communities and Black political power.
We believe that we must show up for our students to provide genuine support and action. We serve predominantly Black, Latinx, APIA, and indigenous students. Every one of us has the power to teach about the activism, leadership, and accomplishments of Black communities and political power — today and in history. We can provide opportunities for students to explore activism as it relates to their own experiences and in solidarity with each other. We can support students in recognizing discrimination in our criminal justice system — both in policing, and in the prison-industrial complex. And, we can teach students to recognize systemic injustice broadly, including in wealth, housing, healthcare, and education access. It is imperative that we help students develop their own voices in fighting for their own vision for racial and social justice. We ask for professional development and support for these priorities. Our students deserve teaching that supports their identities, politics, and whole lives.
To teach is not enough. Our organization must acknowledge that our Black students disproportionately experience trauma, food and housing insecurity, and health care access because of institutionalized discrimination. Children of color in our cities have consistently experienced higher rates of discipline and suspension, and are more likely to have an incarcerated family member. These are dehumanizing outcomes of racial inequality and discrimination. We must address that our students are traumatized. We need to deepen training for mentoring and holding circles because our students carry stories about trauma. We also need to improve our professional health care programs: all students need regular access to high-quality mental health care and social-emotional support services.
Finally, we believe that we have a collective duty to change all forms of systemic racism expressed in any school practices and communities. We ask that each site advocate for professional development; restorative justice; health services; social justice programming and initiatives; and all other forms of programming and reflection you believe will best support racial and social justice in the context of your site. To our white community: educate yourselves on how to be a better ally and take responsibility for educating other white people.
Summit’s vision statement includes that we support students in becoming contributing members of society. We hope that this fall, Summit teachers will be given the opportunity to provide collective input and leadership on how to work for racial justice. We ask that our organization prioritize this in the future.