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June 1, 2020: “In Solidarity”

Dear Bryn Mawr Community,
 
While our community cannot gather in its traditional way right now, we must come together to show our solidarity for the Black community. Like you, we are sickened and saddened by the violence against Black and Brown Americans that we've witnessed in recent weeks. To our Black/African-American families, we express our deep sorrow. We stand with you in this time of heightened grief.

These past few weeks have vividly reminded us of the pervasive racism in our society. Asian-American and Pacific Islanders continue to be targeted by racism in this time of COVID-19, while people of color are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Blatant examples of violence toward Blacks have played out in front of our eyes. Five years ago, this happened in Baltimore. Nineteen years ago it was in LA. Ninety-nine years ago it was in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The list is too long to recount. Black and Brown children learn early that they are always at greater risk because of the color of their skin. At Bryn Mawr, we stand against systemic disregard for the lives of Black and Brown Americans.

From the age of six months old, our children pick up signals about race. By the time they are eight, ideas about race are firmly rooted in their minds. For this reason, it is critically important that we teach early and often explicitly about the history of racism in America and call out ongoing racism. We stand ready to help our families talk to their children about race. 

To our families, alumnae, and employees of color, please know that you and your children are most valued members of the Bryn Mawr community. Our rich racial diversity is a treasured aspect of the Bryn Mawr experience. All families who join Bryn Mawr are committed to a better world where we live these values more fully.

To members of our white community, we implore you to continue to talk to your families about race, racism and what is happening in our country and join together as a school community to express our support and stance against injustice. While we may not always know what to say or do, or what it is like to be Black in America, we know right from wrong, and what we can do right now is support our families of color at this week's  Community Conversation on Wednesday, June 3. Our presence in the conversation can help us learn how to show up as anti-racist allies and how to disrupt the cycle of violence and discrimination toward people of color. 

We have often written to you about our belief in the power and promise of raising our children in a diverse community, and how deeply we believe that education today must be rooted in equity and justice. We still believe that education is the hope of the future; however, schools can also perpetuate inequity if we're not vigilant. At Bryn Mawr, we stand committed to improving all aspects of our program and curriculum to become an anti-racist institution.

Looking forward, we commit to the ongoing education of our faculty to surface and counteract implicit bias and to promote courageous teaching around race. We share with you our  summer reading list in hopes that some of you will join us in this work. We are elevating our diversity, equity, and inclusion leadership position to a full-time director position at the school, and will continue to diversify our faculty, staff, and board to empower our students and strengthen our community's ability to navigate and thrive in our complex world. We are examining our curriculum to ensure that at each step of the way, our children are learning honestly about racism and how we can be a part of dismantling it.

In the near term, we are committed to providing forums for support and conversation. 

  • Upper School Director Dr. Nicole Hood will be setting up an affinity conversation for African American parents throughout the school. Please click here to indicate your interest in participating.  
  • Bryn Mawr Black Girls: Alumnae + Current Students: A space for affirmation, love, and healing are needed now. All Bryn Mawr Black Girls-alumnae and current students in grades five to twelve-are invited to come together on Tuesday, June 2, at 4 p.m. The discussion will feature reflections from Rhonda Wright Smith '95, Kiana Hebron '95, Dr. Stephanie Akoumany  '06, Zahni Jackson-Garrett '12 and Grace Greene '16. Click here to join (Meeting ID: 929 9516 7479 / PW: BMBG2020)  
  • Wednesday afternoon, Deans Emily Fetting, Jeanette Budzik and Kate Stratton will host a virtual conversation to allow space for 5th-12th grade students from all backgrounds to share both their support and what they need during this time. Students will receive an invitation by email. 
  • Wednesday evening, June 3, at 7 p.m. the diversity, equity and inclusion leaders from Bryn Mawr, Roland Park Country School, Boys Latin and Gilman School will join together to facilitate a Community Conversation about our collective responsibility to build a more just world. (Meeting ID 984 0940 4898 / Password: 130457)
  • Our counselors and administrators stand ready to support any students and families in need. Director of Student Support Services Farah Evans suggested the following resources for parents on how to start or continue conversations about race. 
On behalf of our Board of Trustees and our senior administration, we share these commitments. Justice and equity are high ideals, and they must remain our goal. Our children deserve to inherit a better world. Each one of us can take action to make a difference. Now is the time to do so.

Sincerely,

Sue Sadler
Head of School
 
Hadley Hubbard Feiss '82, P'12, '15
Outgoing Chair, Board of Trustees

Monica Tucker, P'16, 19, 
Incoming Chair, Board of Trustees 

Cynthia Amitin, MD, '85, P'20
Co-Chair, Board of Trustees Committee for Community & Inclusion 
 
Paul Khanuja, MD, P'19, '21
Co-Chair, Board of Trustees Committee for Community & Inclusion
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