The past week has been tumultuous and emotionally painful.
We were horrified to witness the recent killing of George Floyd, one part of a long history of attacks and murders of black people. Seeing example after example of this violence — Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor to name a few — forces us to examine an uncomfortable truth: that our society deems some of us as less worthy of protection, care, respect, and dignity than others — a truth that is not new, but has reached a boiling point.
Peaceful protestors remain resolute despite tear gas and rubber bullets. They implore change night after night … “enough is enough.”
In his address to a largely white audience in 1967 to bring understanding to the Watts Riots in Los Angeles a few years earlier, Dr. Martin Luther King’s observed:
“In the final analysis, a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it that America has failed to hear?”
We have failed to hear that until our country abolishes systemic and ingrained inequities, the fabric of our nation will be irreparably torn.
EMA stands in solidarity with black people in the fight against institutional, systemic racism, white supremacy, and anti-blackness. We support the people who step up to voice their frustrations and anger at the continuing litany of injustice against black people. We support those who step up to speak for those whose voices are being oppressed.
We know that we have more work to do. We recognize our responsibility to work every day to make EMA a better, more forward-thinking association, and that includes an unwavering commitment to integrate an equity lens throughout our organization. This includes recruitment and development of staff, fostering a sense of belonging, and intentionally looking at the services we provide and how we provide them — not only internally but to the member schools and families whom we serve.
Over the past year, we produced various learning opportunities around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), such as a dedicated track for DEI at our annual conference, our recent Admission Leadership Council regional seminar series, our Admission Professionals of Color Committee Affinity Meetup, and our work with Dr. Derrick Gay, one of the leading voices in DEI in the independent school world. We are committed to creating more equitable, thoughtful approaches to strengthen and build on this foundation to serve our staff, members, and families.
Still, we recognize the work of building a just society will never be done. Our mission — and the mission of our member schools — is to play our part in building an inclusive and equitable future for this nation and the world.
Independent schools must redouble our efforts to create leaders who challenge the stale and ineffective approaches to addressing racial inequity. We have dedicated our lives to education; and we believe that our work at EMA to grow and nurture young minds will lead to positive generational change. Our mission supports that, and we hope that we can be a part of actively addressing these prejudices and inequalities.
As the proverb says, the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is today. Today is the day — we encourage you to initiate difficult conversations and to take steps toward educating yourself and improving your practices, just as we at EMA are doing. Equally as important, reach out to your black colleagues, friends, and family members to offer support in these incredibly painful times. If there’s something more you need from EMA, please be in touch with us.
President Obama recently said, "It can't be 'normal.' If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better." We join you in grief and hope that working together, supporting our commitment to a just society, we can move forward … together.
Be well and know that we’re standing in solidarity with all who seek a more equitable and just society,
Heather Hoerle and Marcia Prewitt Spiller
Marcia Prewitt Spiller
Board Chair, EMA
Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Life
Woodward Academy (GA)