Dear Watervliet school and community members,
It has taken all weekend for me to compose my thoughts at this crossroads in our lives. I do not believe it is a coincidence that violent outbursts all over America occurred in the midst of a global pandemic. People have been locked in their homes, scared and w/ a sense of uncertainty they have never experienced before.
As a white person, I have the luxury and the privilege of not fearing for my/my family’s safety when stopped by a police officer. No one ever had to give me “the talk” about keeping my hands on the steering wheel/dashboard in the event of a police stop. No one prejudges me by the color of my skin. I cannot pretend to fully understand the disenfranchisement that black and brown people have experienced over the course of history. What I do know, is that I feel outrage by the violence that took place in our country this weekend, following peaceful protests that were organized, strategic, and purposeful.
People of all races must refuse to be silent and vow to confront racism when we see it and put our words into action…our students’ lives depend on it. It is time to stand in solidarity with our black and brown brothers and sisters in order to eliminate race-based discrimination.
In light of the brutal murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and Christian Cooper, school systems must commit to dismantling institutional racism. We must empower students, let their ideas and voices be heard in hopes of them leading, and not following, the trajectory of the world at this present time.
Systemic racism exists everywhere including in law enforcement, health care, and the educational system. This does not discount those that are authentic, fair and loving people who do not discriminate on the basis of skin color and who recognize and accept racial and socioeconomic differences.
I am calling on everyone, including myself, in the Watervliet City School District and community, to lead with peace and justice. Lean in to what is happening in our world right now and keep the momentum moving forward …our students’ lives depend on it! “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.” (MLK) If not now…when?!
Thank you for all that you do, for every student…every day.
Dr. Lori Caplan