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Juneteenth is Friday, June 19

Posted by L Michelle on June 15, 2020

Earlier this month, our Superintendent and School Board sent a message addressing the current racism and injustice we had all witnessed.  While their message spoke to what has happened recently, it also acknowledged that racism and injustice are not a current event for our black community. The myth behind racism and injustice is that they are things that can be singularly defined and connected. Defined simply as overt hate and connected to only hearts and minds.  Racism and injustice are so much more complex than that.  Yes, it can look like overt hate, but it can also look like access, apathy, privilege, and ignorance. It exists in every institution, including education, even when those places are filled with good people who strive to do right by others. Believing that being a good person eliminates the possibility for racism to show up where we live and work, misses the complexity at play.  When we look at racism and injustice through more than just a singular definition and perspective, its powerful.  It brings to light the truth of how insidious they are within our culture, despite us liking it or not. 

As a school district, we ourselves have contributed to racism and injustice through silence, through a curriculum that tells a single story and perspective, through apathy, and through our educational systems.  We are good people and we also acknowledge the role our institution has played. Holding the good of who we are in tandem with the wrongs we have committed allows us to dismantle polarized thinking .  You can be both good, and acknowledge that you have caused harm.  Action and not just words, is needed and coming on the part our district. Our Equity website is ever changing to better capture the work we have been doing and will continue to do in the district.  Our commitment to eradicate racism and injustice comes from a place of reconciliation. This message is not aimed at some “other,” it is aimed at us, and we do not fear the opportunity to do better.  

In the vein of doing better, we would like to highlight that this coming Friday is Juneteenth, the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.  This is a day our black community has traditionally celebrated and recognized, but is a day that is relatively unknown, talked about, or celebrated by others.  As a school district, we would like to take a small step of hope and solidarity by recognizing and celebrating Juneteenth. We will use this day as a day of reflection and engagement by offering resources, documentaries, and providing space to talk not only about this important day, but also about racism and injustice.  We hope as a community you will join us in this reflection and engagement.  We have provided resources on our Equity website. Feel free to use these resources or whatever you see as the best fit for your family.    

Thank you,

Alaina Sivadasan

Executive Director of Equity

Issaquah School District