Dear Berkeley Carroll Community Members,
You may be aware that Instagram accounts have recently been created by Black students and alumni of several independent schools, including Berkeley Carroll, documenting the racism that they have experienced in these institutions over the years. Members of the Black community here at BC are sharing incidents that have caused pain, anger, and a range of additional emotions. I am upset by and sorry for these experiences. My colleagues and I have reached out to the moderators of this Instagram account to schedule a meeting intended to inform the school's ongoing conversations with students and adults in the BC community as well as to start new ones. This work is aimed at our important shared goal of making a BC experience that Black students expect and deserve.
Reading the Berkeley Carroll posts leaves me with a range of emotions as well. There is sorrow that experiences that were common decades ago when I was a Black student in predominantly White institutions still persist. There is also frustration that ongoing efforts, including anti-racist curriculum development, school-wide programming, and professional development have not yet resulted in the school we want to be.
I know from participating in racial affinity gatherings and broader conversations at school since my arrival last July that there are more stories to hear and more work to be done in order to make Berkeley Carroll an equitable and inclusive space for all students. My colleagues and I will provide opportunities during the coming weeks to continue the discussions and planning undertaken by adults and students during the school year, broadly, and over the past month.
During these meetings, students, faculty, and administrators have expressed support for strengthening our present efforts so that every adult and student at Berkeley Carroll understands how race and racism work in the United States from both an historical and contemporary vantage. In doing this work, we must look both inward at our school and outward at the larger society in which our school is situated. Concurrently, we must take lessons from the movements of the past and present in order to make changes aimed at dismantling racism in this nation, in the independent schools, broadly, and in our school.
Among the challenges that we face in this work is how to hold one another accountable while also continuing to hold one another in community. Students, parents, guardians, alumni, faculty, and staff must remain in dialogue so that we can create substantive, positive change grounded in justice, understanding, and empathy. We will be reaching out to you in order to continue to work toward fulfilling Berkeley Carroll's promise.
Lisa Yvette Waller, Ph.D.