Affirming our stance against hate

Dear Parents and Staff Members, 

On January 20, 2017, Former President Obama tweeted a simple request to all of us.  “I'm still asking you to believe - not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours. I believe in change because I believe in you.”

The change that he was referring to wasn’t a policy.  It wasn’t a multi-trillion dollar program, a health care bill, or the amendment of our tax code.  The change that he was referring to is a recognition of our ability to be agents of change in our community.  It’s a call to action that asks us to accept those who do not look like us, listen and validate others' experiences.  To find ways to create respectful discourse and have meaningful cross-cultural  relationships.  He wanted us to realize that what affects one of us, impacts all of us.  We are not a monolithic group. We are a diverse community of people who are fortunate to participate in this great experiment.

Over the past couple of years MVWSD Trustees, teachers and staff have continued to reaffirm our belief that MVWSD is a community that welcomes everyone.  Our Trustees have passed resolutions that have not only denounced hate of all kinds but also affirmed the rights of the marginalized.  These resolutions are buttressed through our actions; school namings, teacher and staff training, staff appointments and policy decisions. 

Despite our actions, we continue to witness reprehensible acts of vandalism.  The latest examples of this are the painting of racist symbols in a public restroom on a school’s campus, and the drawing of anti-semitic propaganda at another school.  Unfortunately, because these opprobrious acts are disjointed and target various groups, we don’t easily see the connective tissue between these instances.  Even worse, we often overlook the impact that this has on our kids and community as a whole.

But I feel all of it.  Our Board of Trustees feels all of it.  And I know a part of our community is languishing in pain.  This time it is our Jewish families.   

Please know that MVWSD not only condemns these acts of vandalism but we stand in solidarity with you.  So let me reaffirm our position.  MVWSD not only condemns acts of hate, intolerance and bigotry, but we will continue to do everything in our power to combat it and prevent it.  We will continue to partner with MVPD to catch the perpetrator(s).  We will add additional safety measures, including cameras to help reduce the likelihood of future vandalism on our campuses.  More importantly, we will continue to use our platform to create a reconciliation process, and to affirm the rights of all and venerate our differences.

I am now calling on you to help us to solve this problem that continues to plague our community.  I am imploring you to help us bring lasting change that will not only help your children, but will also help your children’s friends, your neighbors, city and community feel valued.  

If we are going to change, and I mean truly change, then we are going to have to believe in our ability to do it together.  We should never excuse this behavior as boorish or sophomoric behavior because it doesn’t directly affect us. This is a human issue that impacts us all. 

We need to embrace our neighbors.  We need to talk to our kids, address our biases and confront hate. We can find ways to expose children to viewpoints that diverge from ours while affirming our own cultural identities.  We need to give back to those who are unfortunate and give ourselves grace.   If we can do this together, then we can stymie the tide of hate and restart the healing process.

Ayindé Rudolph, Ed.D.
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