The following letter was distributed June 4 and signed by Five Town CSD Superintendent Maria Lbiby, Five Town CSD School Board Chairperson Becky Flanagan and Camden-Rockport School Board Chairperson Matt Dailey.
We, too, are outraged. The last few months have shined a bright light on the serious racial inequities that continue to exist in America. At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, we bore witness to the racial prejudice directed at Asian Americans, wrongly accusing them of being responsible for the virus’s spread, and this bias lingers in our own community to this day. We also know that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted people of color.
Concurrently, we are bearing witness to unforgivable treatment of African Americans at the hands of some police. Unfortunately, our country has a long history of mistreatment toward Black people. We continue to witness the devaluing of Black lives, and the everyday indignities many racial groups face as a result of conscious and unconscious racial bias. White people need to do better. We as a community need to do better. We as a school system need to do better.
We need to unite around anti-racism and work harder to understand how our systematic privilege contributes to the pain and injustice inflicted upon Black people.
It is not an option to assume, because of mid-coast Maine’s lack of diversity, that this is not our issue. It is. It is everyone’s responsibility to make things right. Our school system is educating students who will eventually sprinkle out all over this country. We need to listen, dig deep for understanding, be vulnerable, and commit ourselves to justice for all. We don’t believe we can do that by being silent. We need to take a deliberate antiracist stand.
Breaking the “white silence” about race is as important for us as individuals and as it is for our educational and other institutions. We acknowledge the uncomfortable nature of reaping the benefits of white privilege while decrying the wrongs of the system. We need to begin somewhere. The costs of not engaging are far too great.
As a school community, we commit to exploring and owning our beliefs and practices to more meaningfully contribute to a just, anti-racist education system. We will be vigilant in finding solutions for substantive change in the areas that we as educators can control.
We ask other leaders in the community to step up and do the same in their organizations, no matter how uncomfortable or hard it is. Now is the time to lean in and be a part of the change our society so desperately needs.
And to the black members of our community, the indigenous members of our community, and the other people of color in our community, we strive to be accountable to you and support anti-racism work in our world, our schools, our organization, our policies, and our hearts.