An Open Letter to GMIS Families on Recent Events
Sat, Jun 6 3:20pm

GMIS Families,


I know that the past few months have been hard and dispiriting. But watching the heightened activism of so many in our communities and bearing witness to the development of a deepened, collective awareness around the painful, enduring, and too often fatal consequences of racial injustice and institutionalized discrimination, makes me hopeful that this can be the moment when real change starts.


Since the disturbing death of George Floyd on May 25th at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis, I've reflected much about how I, as an individual, and a member of this community could make this moment a turning point for real change. In the process, I started by looking back as a way to move forward, specifically into personal journals kept over the years. 


It brought me back to my reflections on the murders of Emmett Till, killed in Mississippi at 14 in 1955, of Vincent Chin, a Chinese-American auto-worker killed in Detroit in 1982, of Oscar Grant on New Years Day 2009 at BART's Fruitvale Station, of Atatiana Jefferson, Sandra Bland, Ahmaud Arbery...there are just too many to list. These entries cover events spread across hundreds of years of our country’s history, they are filled with outrage, confusion, disbelief, and their pages bear evidence of tears shed in despair and embarrassment, enough is enough. 


When I look at them again more closely, however, I notice that these entries are also reflective in disposition, hopeful in orientation, and resolute in action. They help inform and guide two prescriptions for action that I'd like to share and invite you to join me and the GPO in performing today.


1: Let us begin or continue having the difficult but necessary conversations with our children about racism, and the importance of treating one another fairly and equally despite differences, including but not limited to the color of one's skin. For those, like myself, who have struggled at home having conversations about these complex and disturbing events with our children, I'd like to offer a few resources. One, Talking About Race, an online resource created by the National Museum of African American History & Culture to help families, individuals, and communities talk about racism. Two, earlier this week, The New York Times' posted Talking to Kids About Racism, Early and Often, which can serve as a helpful guide with references to additional resources. And finally, Are your kids too young to talk about race?


2: Let us call on our school and its amazing teachers to inspire and empower classroom conversation about the principles of equity, equality, and greater awareness in the coming weeks but also advocating that it be made a permanent part of the GMIS curriculum. To do this, I encourage you to contact Vivi and our teachers and let your voices be heard on this issue but also encourage you to be prepared to offer your support, in the form of your time, skills, interests, and expertise to support its implementation and long-term success.


Remember, that history has its eyes on us. May this time be marked by our coming together as a community to have an open and honest dialogue, full of respect, curiosity, love and a shared belief in the respect for all lives, and an individual’s ability to live with dignity, free from discrimination and safety from violence.


As we take these steps and begin to think about what comes next, I hope this finds your families safe, happy, hopeful, and thankful for the current opportunity to do the long, hard, and committed work necessary to make a lasting difference. I'm confident that if we channel our energy and spirit in service of the principles of greater awareness, equality, and unity, we can grab a hold of the current moment to sow the seeds of empathy and understanding and prepare our children and ourselves to affect enduring change through peaceful, sustained, and effective actions in the future.


I thank you for your time, attention, and invite you to be in contact should any of these words have moved you. My hope is that this will inspire conversation in your households and empower action in our community.


With gratitude, great humility and love,


Andrew Chen

President, GPO 2019-20