Messages of Importance
From Penn Charter's Board Clerk
June 3, 2020
Dear Penn Charter Community,
I wish to assure our community that recent horrific acts — the deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, and racism directed toward Christian Cooper — are deeply felt and require action, not just words. These events bear further witness to the deep, generational, systematic racism that African Americans, other people of color and all disenfranchised people painfully experience. Violence and social injustice are intolerable yet common to this group.
Racism must stop. The physical, emotional, and psychological weight that African Americans and people of color have had to carry, a weight that is even greater now, is a pain that must end. I am sorry for the pain of systematic racism and the trauma recent events have caused Penn Charter students, families, faculty, staff and OPCs of color. Black Lives Matter.
Kenneth Frazier, Chairman and CEO of Merck, said in a recent interview that he could have been George Floyd. I can't make that statement. Kenneth Frazier is black. I am white. To live a life of fear, of being pulled out of a car and suffocating at the hands of police or going for a jog and being murdered because of the color of your skin is inhumane. White people may understand this social dichotomy, but they don't live it and no one should.
We are a diverse community at Penn Charter. This is a source of strength and at times conflict. Our community is hurting and we need to move towards healing. I call to action our board, faculty and staff, parents, OPCs and students to come together to do more, to lead a movement to promote antiracism not only at Penn Charter but in the communities that we live in and serve. I am not certain what this work will be, but guided by our Quaker values, I know we will move meaningful work forward. We must. We need to do more. We will do more.
Clerk of Overseers
From the Head of School
May 31, 2020
Dear Members of the Penn Charter Community,
After last week and an intense weekend of watching the news and events evolving from the death of George Floyd, I am compelled to write you about this, another senseless and sad death of another black man.
I write to express my sadness about the tragic events that we continue to witness in our world. The images of George Floyd on the ground pleading for his life and the events surrounding Ahmaud Arbery sicken my stomach and stoke my own fears for the safety of my sons and every young person.
On Friday afternoon, a group of more than 100 Penn Charter students and faculty and staff participated in a virtual, focused Meeting for Worship. Organized and facilitated by Antonio Williams, Penn Charter's director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the guiding query stemmed from the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "I think America must see that riots do not develop out of thin air. Certain conditions continue to exist in our society which must be condemned as vigorously as we condemn riots. But in the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?"
During that Meeting, consistent messages from students expressed fear, disappointment in how we as a school have dealt with and responded to racial incidents at Penn Charter and the world, and a generalized sense of being tired about having to be the educators to others about the impact these incidents have on them and people of color. Included, too, in these messages were a desire for additional allies to be part of the difficult conversations and education on racial injustice, messages of support of one another and of hope, faith and solidarity. I was proud of our students' vocal ministry during Meeting for Worship and aware of the trauma they were experiencing, trauma which has only intensified for many of our students after the events in our city this weekend.
Through my communications, you know this has been a year of sadness for me. Now, in addition to all the other issues we have faced, we are confronted with COVID-19 and a worldwide pandemic. I believe all of this is compounded by an all-or-nothing moment in our society when one's particular view is singularly "right" or singularly "wrong." In other words, if you are right, then I am wrong, and if you are wrong, then I am right. This obdurate dichotomy leaves no place in the middle for discussion, growth, empathy or understanding. Without this space, there is no place for adult growth and redemption, and there is no place for student growth and redemption. Without this space, human lives become disposable.
I am reminded of the Quaker testimony of equality, which calls us to see that of God in every person, and also of one particular message at Friday's Meeting for Worship — a call for human decency in how we interact and treat each other. Human decency. Such a simple thought but so difficult to achieve when injustices of racism, classism, homophobia, among many others, remain and divide us in so many ways and when we watch the death of George Floyd and others before our eyes. While I don't have a formula of how to right the injustices of today's world, I write to you today to name what we have witnessed and to be reminded of a student's clarion call for us all to act with and treat others with human decency.
Darryl J. Ford
Head of School
Living Our Mission: Learn more about Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Penn Charter.