May 29, 2020
Dear MPA Community,
In yesterday’s Panther Post, I wrote about the Class of 2020 and their incredible compassion and commitment to raise their voices and use their gifts to “stir the human spirit, stand for justice, and shake the world.” Those words continued to race through my mind, as I awoke in a city that is filled with pain and violence. The murder of George Floyd and the ensuing events this week, make me feel angry, disheartened, and disillusioned. I’m sure you feel similarly this morning.
When I feel hopeless and powerless, I turn to our students for strength and inspiration. Today is no exception. The voices of our students speak wisdom amidst the confusion, bring hope amidst the frustration, ensure love amidst the grief, and call for justice amidst the anger.
MPA, and schools in general, are poised to help facilitate conversations, present learning opportunities, and provide safe places for students to wrestle with difficult topics. For instance, yesterday, more than 60 Upper School students and faculty joined together for a virtual conversation on the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis Police. This conversation, led by the Social Consciousness and Racial Justice and Equity student organizations, centered around challenging and thought-provoking questions about police brutality, overt vs. covert racism, systemic oppression and the role of media in covering this week’s events.
Junior Salmah Elmasry and senior Nasri Maktal, two of the leaders of these student organizations, created a welcoming space for open discussion, honest reflection, listening, and support. Students shared their personal experiences with police brutality, engaged in small group discussions on best practices for supporting disenfranchised communities, and acknowledged their own biases and privilege.
Reflecting on that gathering as well as discussions in class yesterday, Salmah shared, “We are in a particular position that requires us to be active and not to be reluctant. To advocate against these issues publicly. If we display any reluctance, we will only continue with the status quo and allow all of these issues to perpetuate.”
At MPA, we embrace our diversity and celebrate equity and inclusivity. We see ourselves as a family, and I am frustrated that we are not together in person today. Nonetheless, I want to reassure all of our students that they are loved, that their voices matter, and that there is promise for a more just future.
“I am really proud to be in a community of outspoken individuals who have the willingness to listen, discuss, and reflect collectively,” Salmah shared. “That just gives me a little bit of hope.”
Salmah, we have great faith in you, your fellow MPA students, and in all young people. Now, more than ever, our cities, nation, and world need you—actively engaged, educated, and empowered citizens who are committed to critical progress.
Dr. Bill Hudson
Head of School
Click here to read an important message from Dr. Jules Nolan about talking to your children about violence and unrest.