As the country surges with rage and sadness over the death of George Floyd and the systemic injustice it represents, Camp Sangamon is faced with the challenge of how we as a community can offer solidarity with the Black community that goes beyond verbal offers of support and alliance. We are an institution that trains leaders, that works hard to create a kind and diverse environment, and that strives to teach boys to be better than the world outside our boundaries. We recognize that silence fuels injustice, we have been watching closely, and seeking our voice. We speak out strongly and publicly against police brutality and for genuine equality in the USA. We believe in these principles down to our core, and in nurturing them through our work with young men in a complex world.
We stand with Black Lives Matter, and with the oppressed of our world. Caring for the well-being of young men is literally what we do, and when we see that the young men of color who pass through our gates face far greater threats to their safety and success in life than their white counterparts, we know that our mission must grow to be more a part of the solution.
But we also believe that the best way that we can lead in this situation is by listening, and inviting others to listen with us, and to listen differently than we have before, to the voices most central to this issue. We need to actively educate ourselves rather than letting education come to us haphazardly. We need to learn. To understand as best we can, and then act to change our engagement with the world in response to what we have learned.
Some of you may be in a position to do more than that, right now, and we commend you. We’re proud to see the work that is being done by so many of you in our Sangamon family, and proud of the commentary you are contributing to this battle. As an institution, Camp Sangamon has the capacity, when open, to teach many important lessons to people of all ages, races and creeds. We have the capacity to form partnerships to increase our diversity, and we will seek those out whenever possible. We pledge to use this time of social distance and camp closure as a time to listen, to learn, to support, and to prepare for what comes next.
Meanwhile, I’d like to urge you to start the active listening process here, to look into the resources listed on this blog:http://blog.kipp.org/teamandfamily/36-resources-to-help-with-complex-questions-about-race-and-racism-in-america/?fbclid=IwAR3KC3wYXdD3m0HDHBYojHMf-CwVL6_e7P7a-sM7c8727riilW8n1_tV6Go. It is written by a classmate of mine from Wesleyan whose career has been spent working with issues of race. His work here represents a starting point to me, and likely to many of us, and can be a valuable resource moving forward.
I hope that you are all well, and safe. Love from Vermont,