BPS Letter on Buffalo Shooting - May 15, 2022

BPS Letter on Buffalo Shooting - May 15, 2022
Posted on 05/15/2022
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Good Afternoon,

I am heartbroken and livid to learn about the racially motivated hate crime yesterday in Buffalo that resulted in the mass shooting of 13 people at a supermarket in a predominantly black neighborhood. As the frequency and level of violence seem to be normalizing these incidents, I am running out of words to write and I am sitting here today without answers.

Maybe the start is to talk less and listen more? We need to create purposeful opportunities for student and staff identity to be safely expressed and supported. We need to establish opportunities to expand student voice where this voice has been historically and purposefully diminished. All students need safe spaces with adults they know they can confide in while in school.

While all of us are outraged, based on previous conversations with students and staff who share identity with the targeted victims, largely Black, I am certain that these members of our community have concerns for their safety and carry additional harm from acts like this. As I am learning through conversations with BIPOC members of our community that prior, personal experiences of racism can be triggered and re-experienced as well. Even small, unintentional words and actions can have a significantly harmful impact in this context. How can there be any trust? Without trust, there is no way to build community or to create the context for learning.

If certain members of our community are being targeted with hate, then we need to target these same communities with kindness and love. These hateful acts are why public schools across the country, and in Burlington, need to continue to focus on anti-bias and anti-racist education. Even if Burlington feels far removed from these events and many express that these things don’t happen here, we continue to see expressions of bias - even if implicit - in school. By marking these moments, we are not taking away from any group. We can’t succumb to the normalization of hate. I believe that an incredible responsibility of educators is to push back against this normalization. More love results in more love. More kindness leads to more kindness.

Sincerely,
Eric Conti
Superintendent of Schools

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