Dear Duke School Community,
We find ourselves one week away from the 2020 election, pondering the outcome and wondering our next steps, even as we sit in the wake of yet another murder of a Black man by police caught on video. Walter Wallace, Jr., was a 27-year-old man and father was killed in West Philadelphia on the night of Monday, October 26. It is hard, in this context, not to think about the long history of racial terror in this country and the perpetual crossroads at which we find ourselves.
I will offer that regardless of the outcome of the election, what remains critical is what we do after it is over, after the dust has settled. If we are interested in creating a socially just world, then the work continues; we certainly must rest and restore ourselves, but complacency will not serve a vision of social justice.
At Duke School we are committed to recognizing our privilege as an institution and as individuals who make up the institution. We are committed to using that privilege in the service of equity and social justice. We are committed to creating space for those harmed by racism directly. We are committed to creating opportunities for those who benefit from racism to learn and self-examine. We are committed to being a school where children can learn a more dynamic and true history than the one perspective of history to which most of us were exposed. And we are committed to doing everything in our power to ensure that our classrooms are spaces where students of color can be themselves: where they can be emotionally safe and where, if harm does occur, they can be empowered to call it out.
We ask of each of you: What will you do in this next year, regardless of the outcome of this election? What will you do tomorrow? What will you do today? What world can we envision for our children one year from now, ten years from now, fifty years from now, and how can we work to build that world for them? Beyond this, how can we prepare them to build their own world?
May we remember the power of our own choices, dream of more just relationships and communities, and work to build them urgently yet thoughtfully, knowing that our children will one day continue the work we have begun.
Emily Chávez, Director of Equity and Justice