It is hard to say that justice was served, since nothing will ever give restitution for the precious life that was lost. But it was a reckoning of sorts, a step towards accountability at the very least. I can only pray that the verdict that was rendered may have given a modicum of healing to the Floyd family, and a long-awaited moment of relief to the uncountable number of people who have been touched and motivated by this tragedy.
In spite of this historic ruling, we also acknowledge that violent, systemic racism remains pervasive. As people of faith, we must rely on our Catholic social justice teachings, which ask us to constantly recommit ourselves to confronting hate and correcting inequity wherever we encounter it, and—as Pope Francis says—“we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form.”
As Head of School, my first and foremost responsibility is to nurture and support every student receiving a Mayfield education. I am grounded by, and forever grateful for, the teachings of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. In their goals for all Holy Child schools, we are asked “to create a learning climate based on trust and reverence for the dignity and uniqueness of each person” and “to work for Christian principles of justice, peace, and compassion in every facet of life.” At Mayfield, we want our students to arrive at school as their full authentic selves, which is why we constantly strive to foster an anti-racist community, supporting Justice, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (JDEI) initiatives in small and large ways, so we can fully realize Cornelia Connelly’s beautiful educational mission of “Actions Not Words.”
Today is what we have been calling a “Wellness Wednesday” during this pandemic. We don’t have classes on these days. Earlier in the week, we reminded our students that whatever feelings they may be having at this moment are valid and that support is available to them in many forms. This support may come from our School Counselor, Cristina Perez, or from the Co-Directors of our JDEI program, Cassandra Gonzales and Sarah Briuer Boland. Students have also been reminded that today and every Wednesday, Student Diversity Council meetings exist as a place to process, to learn and to be uplifted. Faculty received reminders that some students may be deeply affected by this, and to be on the lookout for those who want to be supported, but also to understand if some don’t want to engage in this way. In addition, our JDEI Co-Directors are holding space for faculty to process and prepare for potential classroom conversations, and have provided resources on how to facilitate these discussions with care. Our Co-Directors are also exploring community interest in more focused social-emotional support.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu once wrote, “My humanity is bound up in yours for we can only be human together. We are different precisely in order to realize our need of one another.” We don’t expect everyone in our community to react to the news of these recent events in the same way. But for many, this feels like a solemn inflection point, and in times like this, there can be much to reflect upon. We humbly ask everyone to extend grace for our student body and community members who may need to process their grief, their hope, their frustration, their despair, their confusion, their relief, their determination, and everything else which might arise in these unprecedented moments.
Cornelia Connelly prayed, “Give me, O Lord, a love full of action.” As we deepen our understanding of the world we inhabit, and seek to improve the society we live in, we pray that God guides all of our actions towards more justice, more compassion and more love always.
With Love and Gratitude,