While I have written to you about the profound impact of COVID-19 on TEAK and, more specifically, the disproportionate impact COVID-19 is having on the physical/emotional health of people of color and the economic losses sustained by those who live in under-resourced communities, I find myself compelled to write yet again.
On behalf of the TEAK Fellowship, I write this time to express my concern particularly for our Fellows, as they try to survive the painful fact that George Floyd was killed earlier this week (and Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor earlier this spring) by yet another act of senseless violence of the type too often inflicted on our friends in the Black community and for too many years. Like many of the protestors on our streets, TEAK staff are outraged that our friends often must fear for their lives in the face of police and other forms of brutality. This – now centuries-old pattern in America – must stop.
Those who killed George Floyd did not value his life and thus denied him his humanity. This demonstration of inhumanity has no place in America and, of course, no place at TEAK.
TEAK staff are also reminded of the number of racially motivated slights that our Black community continues to endure and other types of everyday slights all of our students and families endure in our schools, on our campuses, and in our communities due to race, ethnicity, creed, and other characteristics that form our identities. We should all be entitled to project and celebrate our identities without trepidation. We must respect one another, learn more about each other, and love each other. That is what will ultimately bind us.
All of us at TEAK are committed to standing up and speaking out to help make our respective communities safe and more inclusive and are appreciative of all that our students bring to their schools, campuses, and communities. We are committed to doing the work needed to be an anti-racist organization.
While discouraged today, I am not broken. I am actually encouraged by the activism and peaceful protests led and exercised by young people and am more certain than ever of the importance of our Fellowship going forward. Our TEAK Fellows prove every day that it is possible – indeed preferable – to live in a multi-racial multi-cultural country but in both peace and harmony. TEAK Fellows will be a potent force for positive and long overdue change in a country badly in need of their respectful and open-minded leadership.
We value our diverse community and will always recognize your humanity.