Dear Thornhill families and community members,
Like you, we are still processing the outrageous, hateful targeting of Black students earlier this week. The PFC board has been in continuous discussions since we learned about the incident, and we emphatically stand against racism and in unequivocal support of our families with Black children. There’s nothing more important to a school community than keeping our students physically and psychologically safe, and an incident like this is an upsetting but important reminder that this requires constant effort and action. This note reflects collective thoughts from discussions within the PFC board as well as with Black parents in our community.
Most immediately important are the events being held this Tuesday, November 1 at school. We urge everyone who can to attend any part of these gatherings and affirm together that Black Lives and Black Children’s Lives Matter. The PFC will provide coffee and donuts for the first portion. For more information on the two meetings that follow, please see the attached flyer and the letter sent Friday night from Denise Curtis, OUSD Restorative Justice Program Manager (below Mr. Daubenspeck’s letter).
- 8:00am Black Children’s Lives Matter gathering in front of the school — wear black or BLM clothing if possible
- 9:30am Black Affinity Space for parents of Black children (Library)
- 10:30am Thornhill Parent Community Space - All parents are invited and encouraged to attend a listening session to demonstrate unity, allyship, and community. Parents will meet in the multi-purpose room (cafeteria).
A number of Thornhill families with Black children, led by kinder/5th grade parent Marya Wright, have spent extensive time this past week meeting with the administration and OUSD to guide a thorough district, school, and community response. While we are endlessly grateful for these parents’ commitment and energy, and strongly believe Black voices above all else should influence our collective actions, working against racism and white supremacy is not the responsibility of Black families. Last week’s act reminds everyone that anti-Black racism is alive at Thornhill and non-Black families in particular have an individual responsibility for talking to their children about it. Furthermore, racism and bias exist in more constant, insidious forms than an overtly racist act like this one, including in our community, and ongoing discussions need to acknowledge and work against this.
Some of us, Black and non-Black, shared the full content of the racist words written on the school wall with our children in order to help them understand the severity of the act and their role in a climate of systemic racism. Others of us chose to share only parts of the note’s message or its themes, for equally valid reasons of preventing extreme feelings that could detract from an effective age-appropriate discussion. Whatever approach we took to the conversation, however, most of us agreed that school-age children are not too young to begin an education on race and racism — parents of Black and other non-White children can’t choose the age at which their kids learn about racism when they’re victims of it.
The PFC is committed to making sure that this remains an ongoing, meaningful community discussion beyond the incident. In the coming weeks, we’ll share recommended resources for parents, thoughts from our incredible students from their own discussions, and further opportunities to come together around these issues. We’re so grateful for this wonderful community, we’re all in this together.
Evie Nagy and Rianna Stoll
Thornhill PFC co-presidents