June 2, 2020
Dear Good Counsel Community:
Our respective roles provide frequent opportunities to speak for our community. We readily admit we have struggled to find words adequate to address the anger, hurt, and frustration expressed daily in the streets of our nation's cities.
As hard as it is to watch the video of the murder of George Floyd, we cannot look away. This is a time when our country and this community must stare at the brutal reality of racism, discrimination and injustice.
As we watch events unfold at the national level, much closer to home we get reminders of the pain experienced every day by our black community. Good Counsel cannot afford the convenience of treating this deep societal sickness as some remote city's problem. Our interest in college football includes following some of our recent alums on Twitter. Reading their tweets after the video of the killing of Ahmaud Arbery surfaced a couple of weeks ago, laid bare the pain that we are certain is shared by many of our young black men. How can they feel safe? Their hurt and fear and anger were raw. On Sunday afternoon, we received several emails, all from rising sophomores, each expressing love for our school and yearning for us to speak out; their distress could not have been clearer. On Monday, one of our colleagues shared how shaken she was. Her husband, a middle-aged black man, was verbally abused and intimidated while out for a peaceful bike ride in Olney this past weekend. And overnight, we received emails informing us about a photo that was posted on social media of a white student in black face. Racism, prejudice and hatred pack a dehumanizing punch.
It is impossible for us to truly comprehend the cumulative effect of daily dealing with such pressures, especially as experienced by our young black men. We are parents who never had to have "the talk" with our sons about how they should behave to stay safe.
As a Catholic school in the Xaverian tradition, Good Counsel can and must be a force for change. The current climate forces all of us to acknowledge what the Brothers refer to as "our sinful and graced humanity." The burden of eliminating racism is on all of us. Those of us with so many advantages need to own our central role in the work of change.
In their Fundamental Principles, our founders, the Brothers talk about coming to "the understanding that a continual conversion is needed." Difficult conversations related to our understandings of race, power, authority, privilege, identity, and justice have been part of our country's narrative for longer than any of us has been alive. Such conversations have a place in this school. We recognize our important obligation to partner with families in helping students engage with these issues.
At the start of the school year, we promoted #GCUnity, We're all Falcons. It has been a painful dimension of the present moment that we have not been together for two and a half months. COVID-19 may have the Good Counsel community spread apart as we end the school year, but we can be united in our rejection of the sin of racism. With the resumption of school still months away, we will spend time planning ways for our young men and women to reflect, share, and grow in understanding of what is demanded of them if we are to have a more just society. And when we return, the events of the spring of 2020 must be remembered. #GC Unity, We're all Falcons is possible if we are willing to create safe spaces where we engage together in that "continual conversion."
We will become a stronger community when, embracing the Brothers' core spiritual values of humility and compassion, we acknowledge our personal and collective responsibility for establishing right relationships with one another. "God desires to manifest His care and compassionate love ... to those who suffer from want, neglect, and injustice: the poor, the weak, and the oppressed of this world." On such a foundation rests the Kingdom of God.
We are not there yet. Let's build together.
Paul G. Barker, Ed.D.
Thomas R. Campbell