This letter was emailed to all students, parents, and staff members in response to George Floyd's death and the subsequent protests around the country and the world to bring attention to racial injustices. New Trier made a conscious decision to post this letter publicly on its website rather than on its social media platforms after seeing similar posts attract painful and often racist debate in their comment sections. New Trier believes the lives, the humanity, and the pain of Black Americans are not up for debate.
June 2, 2020
Dear New Trier Families,
This message is for everyone, but I wish to specifically address our Black students and staff and their families. It is our obligation to ensure that our school community is welcoming, safe, and accepting for all students. Let me be clear, your lives matter and your futures matter. This moment is a stark reminder that too often the freedom that many of us experience to live our lives without the fear of violence feels out of reach for many Americans.
Right now is a critical time in our country. On the streets of Minneapolis, Chicago, and other cities across America, protesters are making visible their anger, frustration, and exhaustion with systems that support racial injustice. These protests began following the May 25th death of George Floyd in Minnesota, a Black American who died after being handcuffed face down on the ground while a police officer kept a knee on his neck despite his pleas that he could not breathe. The officer has been charged with Floyd's murder.
Although the event that sparked the protests began in another state, the protests that have followed make it clear this is not about one city or one state. Rather, this is about the lives of Black Americans in our country, in our state, and in our community. The social contract that is necessary for all to be able to pursue life, liberty, and happiness is not working as it should. The death of George Floyd was only the latest in a long list of equally horrific killings of Black Americans like Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Louisville, and many more. This is a tragedy not just for the families of those lost, but for our country.
Certainly it has become clear that there are some with ill intent mixed amid the peaceful protesters, who are using this opportunity to commit acts of destruction such as vandalism and the looting of businesses. But we must not let this distract from the very important message of racial injustice that these protests seek to bring to the forefront. To understand that message and current events in the context of our country's history, I encourage you to read some of the many articles, speeches, and texts of Black authors and leaders on this topic. Here are a few that I have found useful:
Dr. Paul Sally, Superintendent
April 20, 2021
Dear New Trier Students and Families,
George Floyd's killing nearly a year ago helped spark a national and global movement to recognize and combat the racism, injustice, and violence faced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in our communities every day.
Today the police officer who killed George Floyd was found guilty of second-degree murder and all other charges against him. This is a significant moment that we know many of our students will want to process in different ways - in discussions with peers or adults, in quiet reflection, or in action.
We will have opportunities for students in our racial affinity groups to come together to discuss the impact of this news if they wish to do so. In adviser room tomorrow, all students will have the chance to reflect on this news, their own reactions, and ways they can make a positive difference. Some teachers also may lead discussions or reflection as appropriate. If students need to process what they are feeling, they can reach out to a trusted adult or our Social Work department in room 225 on the Winnetka Campus and in room B230 at the Northfield Campus. Remote students can access Social Work support through the Bookings process. The Wednesday program for our seniors with C.L. Lindsay has been postponed, and seniors should report to adviser room and their regular classes.
We know that at New Trier we have ongoing work to do to recognize and address racism in all of its forms. It is an important part of our strategic plan to become a school where every single student, parent, and staff member feels valued, welcomed, and safe on our campuses and within our school community no matter their race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ability. We have much work to do, and we ask all of you to join us in this work.
On this day, let us remember the life of George Floyd as we commit to becoming a school community that is welcoming and feels safe for all.