In Response to the Ongoing Violence Against Communities of Color
To the Buxton Community,
It has already become commonplace to say that we are living through unprecedented times. And yet, for black Americans and other people of color, we are living through events that are all too familiar: the dangers, failings, risks, and horrors of our society are being visited upon them to a disproportionate and unconscionable degree. While the coronavirus itself is indiscriminate, its effects on the population have not been. The terrible truths that have been laid bare by the disparate mortality rates is news to some, but not to the communities of color in this country.
And then, this week, we saw, once again, the effects of a different virus that has infected our country since its inception: The deeply ingrained racism that undergirds so many of our institutions has shown itself yet again through the killing of George Floyd at the hands of white police officers. George Floyd, of course, is only the latest—that we know of— in a long line of black victims of police brutality, and while the litany of names may have become familiar, the fates of these individuals should not be commonplace nor should they ever stop evoking rage and calls for change.
Our students of color are deeply affected by these tragic and unnecessary deaths, as is the entire Buxton community. It feels especially difficult to be experiencing this trauma while we are dispersed: we cannot talk to, hug, or support each other in real time and space. Knowing that their vulnerability to dangers of every kind is crowding in on our students of color without their Buxton community to help them is its own additional source of grief and frustration.
This isn’t just a problem or a source of outrage for our students of color. The many affronts to communities of color is a problem and a source of outrage for all of us—particularly at a place like Buxton. God knows, we are far from perfect, but we do try to create anew every year a community that foregrounds compassion and conversation; that tries not to shy away from the complexities of race relations in this country; and that strives to model, in some small imperfect way, what it might look like to create a community that is truly safe, truly egalitarian, truly somewhere all people can thrive. That said, we cannot be complacent; we must constantly challenge ourselves to be better, to do better, to put more work into fighting racism, both within our community and without. We are committed to doing just that.
I am sending this letter to communicate our collective outrage and sorrow. I am sending this letter to say that Buxton stands against these affronts to our collective bodies and with our students and families of color. I am sending this letter to reaffirm that Buxton is always striving to be better. My voice cannot stand in for the voices of those who are more directly affected by the constant assaults of racism that we see day after day in our communities and our country. But it’s important to say that, as the director of Buxton and on behalf of the whole faculty, I want better for our students, our families, and our world.
Franny Shuker-Haines and the Buxton Faculty