SchoolFacts Boston envisions a Boston where the voice of all families drives the direction of Boston’s schools. In its essence, this work is about confronting the institutional racism that has, most impactfully, marginalized the voices of families of color in our communities and in our schools.
I am proud that SchoolFacts Boston is led by a Family Advisory Board made up of black, brown, and white Bostonians. These trying times amplify a long unheard call for those of us who are white to do more. Some of the black and brown people that make up SchoolFacts Boston have expressed to me their frustration and fatigue after fighting alone for so long. They have expressed to me the desire to hear from white friends and colleagues — both in sharing the burden of alleviating racism in this country, and in raising their voices in condemning injustice. For this reason, I am writing today to share my thoughts as a white person who is also a co-founder of SchoolFacts Boston.
The murder of George Floyd, only weeks after the murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, leaves all of us not only angry and frustrated, but struggling with a sense of hopelessness that the racism pervading our society will never be gone. As James Baldwin wrote, “To be black and conscious in America is to be in a constant state of rage.” It is time for white people to share that sense of rage.
Let those of us who are white see and understand that these recent shocking acts of violence are neither new nor rare for families of color, particularly for African American families. Rather, these murders are the by-product of American racism. This racism is experienced by people of color every day in this country and manifests itself through intentional and unintentional actions, through small and large gestures, as well as through brutality and violence. Let us understand the ongoing trauma that racism inflicts on our friends, neighbors, and co-workers of color. Let us understand the insidious damage racism inflicts on ourselves as white people when we allow racism to fester. Let us acknowledge and confront our internal biases and the ways in which we can be blind to the racism around us. Let us realize that we cannot rely on black and brown people to explain racism to us, nor can we only confront racism when people of color are present. Let us make it our responsibility to understand and fight racism and the damage that it does to all of us and to our whole society.
I do not write with any sense of self-righteousness. Rather, I write knowing that I have not done enough to fight racism, and that I must do more.
Let us find healing and strength in each other so that we may all do more together to end racism. Let us find the hope, courage, and a common commitment necessary to change America every day. As Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
John R. Connolly