A letter about racism

Dear De La Salle Collegiate Families,

The human indignity and indecency we’ve witnessed recently against the black community are both appalling and deplorable. Our hearts are heavy and our souls are weeping during this dark moment in our nation’s history.

The various injustice, inequities, and anti-blackness rooted in the systemic racism that led to the senseless killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor has angered and saddened us. We understand the protests and anger are centered on the loss of black lives, especially those of black men. These examples of racism and shocking acts of violence against black people have put our already fragile country further into turmoil and serves to widen a deepening social divide.

All of this takes place during a global pandemic that has disproportionately affected the marginalized – including many disadvantaged black people – bringing into stark relief underlying inequities in health insurance, medical treatment, and employment.

In our country, across all states and in all cities, we have a crisis of institutional and systemic racism that is the direct result of centuries of race-based inequity and injustice. It plays out across all aspects of life for Black America regardless of income or socio-economic background.

In the face of continued acts of racial violence, we vow to redouble our efforts to ensure racial justice is at the center of everything we do at De La Salle Collegiate. Our school must be a safe haven where all students are heard, respected and nurtured, can achieve and grow, and are guaranteed equity and justice.

As Lasallians we have the Five Core Principles. Three of those are Inclusive Community; Respect for all Persons; and Concern for the Poor and Social Justice. During these turbulent days, it is these three principles that speak to our hearts. 

After the senseless killing of Mr. Floyd, we are called to do something more important – live our Lasallian principles. We stand in peaceful solidarity with our black students, faculty and staff, and alumni, and advocate for the inclusion and respect for all people. We seek to eradicate racism and injustice through education and advocacy. We pray that love and understanding replace hatred and violence. 

On Monday, Brother Dennis Lee, the Provincial for the District of Eastern North America, sent a letter to our Lasallian schools saying, “I hope that you are, like me, tired of statements and hashtags that rise to the surface too frequently (and then as quickly, disappear). ... I trust that we all realize that, even in an era of instant gratification, eradicating racism and promoting justice will take constant effort on the part of all of us.” 

Saint John Baptist de La Salle founded schools to serve the underprivileged and forgotten children. He gave away all of his hierarchical titles and earthly possessions to stand in solidarity with those seeking justice through education. Throughout our Lasallian history, the Brothers and Lasallian partners have continued to seek out those who are victims of injustice while offering an education that reflects respect and inclusivity. As a school community, we believe De La Salle Collegiate is a place for building equity, understanding, and for active engagement in creating pathways to inclusivity and justice for all people. 

We strongly feel that we need to come together and let it be known that De La Salle Collegiate stands against social injustice, police brutality, and racism. We need to have difficult conversations with our students and address these issues when they happen in an open-minded and honest way. Our teachers and counselors will continue to be responsive to inquiries and engage our students in discussions to support them where they can.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. warned us that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” While he advocated for non-violent protest, he understood that the violence that embroiled the U.S. in the late 60s was the eruption of long-simmering pain and frustration. While a particular event may be the spark that sets the fire, the timber has been piling up for decades through economic and socio-economic discrimination and injustice.

We understand the built-up pain and frustration that some feel while fighting for justice without seeing results. Our actions to promote positive change need to be clear, productive, and firm. We want to be able to say why things are happening, but it’s difficult. There are no real answers to why things are the way they are. But we want to be better and help our community heal. We cannot allow the real message behind the protest – which is a message of equality, justice, and respect – to be diminished.

As an institution whose mission is social justice, it is vital that we all not only acknowledge what is happening but also be moved to action. Although we cannot be physically together to join in conversation, prayer, education, and advocacy – we must still challenge ourselves to be initiators of change. We encourage our students to visit the Christian Brothers District Resource Page to learn, reflect, and pray on this topic. The first steps in creating a more loving and respectful world is to listen and understand. These resources provide tools that will help our students better understand the topic of racial justice and find ways to effectively and appropriately advocate for change.

We want to hear, even when listening will make us uncomfortable. We want to hear from you about any injustice you have experienced, whether that happened in our community or outside of it. In the days and weeks to come, we all will continue to formulate answers to these questions that motivate our work. How can we be better? If you have questions or concerns, or want to share your thoughts, please contact us.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle. Pray for us!
Live, Jesus, in our hearts. Forever!

 

Bro. Joseph Jozwiak, FSC, Executive Administrator
Mr. Nathan Maus, Principal
Mr. Joe Gerardi, Vice President of Mission and Ministry

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