A letter from Dr. James B. Everitt: 'We must gather together as a community of love to end the insidious consequences of racism'
June 1, 2020
Dear Sacred Heart Community,
I write to you with a broken heart, knowing that we are all trying to make sense out of the recent murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery. I know that I am not alone; we are in this together. In addition to all of the black Americans who have unjustly died at the hands of law enforcement, communities of color in this country continue to pay the heavy price for the deeply ingrained racism that continues to destroy the very soul of our nation. The COVID-19 pandemic has more clearly revealed the disparities in our education, healthcare, and economic institutions. I am angry and hurt, and I know that people of color, in our community and across the country, need those of us who have the power and privilege to do something to address these savage inequalities that threaten their very lives and betray our common humanity. We must not sit comfortably in our anger and resentment, but gather together as a community of love to end the insidious consequences of racism. Now is our time.
It has become almost impossible to watch the news without feeling a sense of despair at the condition of our very fragile world and the sinful treatment of black Americans. However, we can find hope in our faith and the mission that animates Sacred Heart education. Rooted firmly in the belief that all human beings share a common origin in God the Creator and are, thus, equal, we know that through hard work and grace, we can learn a different way of relating to one another and find the power to change the systems that continue to dehumanize our brothers and sisters.
Sacred Heart Schools, Atherton stands with the Society of the Sacred Heart
and with the United States Bishops
in condemning all forms of prejudice, bigotry, and racism and we commit to deepening our educational efforts to help the students entrusted to our care. I am asking that we, as members of the Sacred Heart community, – parents, guardians, students and educators – examine our hearts and minds and begin to integrate anti-racist, anti-bias practices in our spheres of influence. To my colleagues, I am asking that we take seriously the invitation to bring new energy and an untiring commitment to our educational philosophy so that we can help our students unlearn ways of thinking and being that support white dominance. To Sacred Heart students, I am asking that you do everything in your power to broaden your friend groups, to be kind to one another and to take seriously the unique education that you are being afforded at Sacred Heart Schools. To parents and guardians, support our efforts to create an inclusive climate in which human diversity is experienced as a wonderful gift. Together, we must provide new ways of teaching and experiential opportunities for our children, students, and employees to understand the root causes of racism and to develop the intellectual and emotional capacity to confront white supremacy in all its forms. We must evaluate our institutional policies and practices that consciously or unconsciously enforce racist beliefs and attitudes. This is a commitment we cannot fail to meet. It is time for us to imagine a new way forward, a path that values the dignity of all human beings and seeks, first of all, a world of peace and justice.
While no statement can heal the wounds inflicted by this nation’s history of pervasive and systematic racism, we can, individually and together as the community of God’s Heart, do our very best to resist it, to actively fight against it, and to model for our children what it means to stand with and for those who have been victimized by it. Most importantly, we have this opportunity to recommit ourselves to making known God’s love in the heart of a world plagued by violence and indifference to human suffering. Let us, together with all people of goodwill, do the work of justice, making sure that not another human being dies as a result of racism and bigotry.
To support conversations with our children this summer, I have identified a few resources that might assist us in helping them understand racism and the horrifying images that they are consuming in the news and online.
It is my sincere hope that beginning today we take on this challenge anew – responding generously to make sure that everyone at Sacred Heart Schools and in our great country feels deeply cared for, loved, and respected in word and deed.
Sincerely and with great hope for the future,
James B. Everitt, Ed.D.
Director, Mission Initiatives & Institutional Planning