June 4, 2020
Dear BCAM Community- Our Students, Families, Staff, Partners, Alumni, Friends:
The past weeks have been very difficult. The police murder of George Floyd was simply horrifying. Similarly, the murder by police of Breonna Taylor, and the killing of Ahmaud Arbery by racist trash was equally as sickening. I think many of us share the same sadness, anger and despair, but I also believe we are unfortunately not surprised. We’ve seen and experienced this shameful disregard for Black lives far too many times in past years, decades, centuries. It is agonizing.
The BCAM Family, with every fiber in our hearts, condemns police brutality and police killing, and racist harm in any manner. Injustice and harm to one is injustice and harm to all. We know very well that these victims could easily be our students, our family members, our alumni, our staff and their families. We also as a community stand staunchly against the various forms of personal and institutional racism and white supremacy that we believe still deeply plague New York, the United States and the world. Our country has a long and tragic history of brutal racism and supremacy that is still incredibly present and real today, from the top of our government down to all reaches of our society.
BCAM strongly stands in full solidarity with all of you, all of us, and all others who are mourning these shameful losses, and who endure ongoing racism and so many forms of oppression and marginalization.
The protests and movements happening in our city and around the country show the anger and unhappiness of many. Folks want change and want it immediately. The people are speaking. We are speaking about police behavior, about the daily treatment of disenfranchised Black and Brown people, and about our country’s leadership. We pray that these protests remain safe and intelligent of course, but at this terrible point it is clear that many good, honorable people, of all backgrounds, have beyond had enough. The pain, struggle and raw emotion of this time is very real.
So, this letter takes this difficult moment to share some important commitments we as a school want to make to you as our loved students, families and community—our BCAM Fam. While we consider ourselves a caring, communicative and successful school, we do not hesitate to understand ourselves well enough to know we can do even better. We must do better! Thus, we have some clear commitments, short term and long term we are proud to share with you. Some of these will obviously take time to get right, but we are all the way down for it.
Here they are:
- We commit to pushing ourselves to become a model anti-racist, anti-white supremacist, anti-oppressive school.
- We commit to figuring out ways to become more liberating and equitable and unifying.
- We commit to investigating and then implementing ways we can make our school, our classrooms, our systems more just and respectful.
- We commit to continually caring about your emotions, your feelings, and your thoughts and providing opportunities in all facets of our school to hear your voices.
- We commit to partnering with you in even great, more substantive and impactful ways.
- We commit to implementing even more culturally connective and responsive mechanisms in our classrooms and school.
- We commit to developing even newer and fresher ways to celebrate you, to love you up, and to honor your efforts, achievements and positive behaviors.
- We commit to celebrating all of our community’s cultures and backgrounds, not just when convenient or popular, but sincerely and in earnest.
- We commit to providing you even more ways to achieve your potential and realize the vast opportunities you have to be great and successful and impactful.
- We commit to continually honing how we hold you accountable so it finds that perfect balance of high expectations and supports.
- We commit to engaging you in constant awareness about political candidates, local and national policies and especially the fall president election!!!
- And we commit to continually looking at ourselves as a staff community, and investigating and improving our own biases, stereotypes, shortcomings and flaws limit you, so that we can change them to better empower you.
Now, BCAM students specifically, please be clear. Please be on notice. Yes, this is a letter sharing these commitments. And we will follow through on them as best we can. But as we say to you all the time as our daily partners, we expect you to commit as well. We expect from you! We want your best effort. We want you to be positive community members who care about your school, our rules and our expectations. We want you to care about others, those you know and don’t know, those you share similarities with as well as those who are very different. We want you to respect and appreciate the BCAM staff that works so hard for you every day. We want you to take chances and push yourselves to be great. We want you to come to school every day you are able. WE WANT YOU TO BE ON TIME EVERY DAY AND TO EVERY CLASS! You get the message. We are taking this as a call to re-entrench ourselves in improvement. We want you to do the same. Let’s do this together and come out of this tough situation of pain and loss and distrust a better and strong community.
Please of course continue to do your best to be well, safe and sound. Please know we are here for you and will continue to be. We have to practice self and community care now more than ever. COVID19 is still present and we have lost enough life and suffered enough pain from that as well. So be safe and smart our peoples!
In conclusion, a flyer has been sent to all of you, inviting you to join as a community in a Video BCAM Community Town Hall this Monday, June 8th at 6pm. We invite to come mourn and bare pain; to come share your thoughts, emotions, frustrations; but also, to join us in revealing your hopes and prayers and dreams. Let us use this night to lean on each other and be community in a time of need. Then, let’s continue to do this each school day moving forward.
We all have a part to play in building an anti-racist, anti-white supremacist, healthy and viable society. That’s the reality. It is going to take everyone. We want to respectfully ask you to see our school as one important piece of this fabric. We are doing the work to improve our school to be the best it possibly can. We are proud and honored to partner with you in this effort.
We are proud to be the BCAM family. Thank you for taking the time to read this.
All the best to you and your loved ones.
Dr. James O’Brien, BCAM Principal
& The Entire BCAM Staff