In recent months, we have written exhaustively about the disease that is spreading around our country and our world. The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and created dramatic shifts to what we would consider “normal.”
But there is another disease that thrives in people and systems across our nation, one that is sometimes talked about but is too often ignored or considered too uncomfortable to discuss. The disease of Racism, both overt and unconscious, continues to run rampant through our society.
The recent tragedies of Ahmaud Arbery and George Floyd have once again brought to light this societal sickness. These tragedies are highlighted because they happened to be caught on video, but the reality is that this has been going on day in and day out for centuries.
As I write this letter, I struggle to find words that will provide any comfort to our school community. I know that our kids, our staff, and our families are hurting. I wish there was more that we could do right now to take away the pain that so many of us are feeling as we watch and experience the life-threatening biases that continue to persist. We tout a land of opportunity, but in reality, we do not see liberty and justice for all.
At Foundation Academies, we pride ourselves on being leaders in our community, working to right some of the injustices that exist by providing kids the high-quality education they deserve. But this is not enough.
To my fellow white people: It is not enough to simply “not be racist.” Rather, we need to engage in the uncomfortable work of unpacking our own biases and privileges stemming from systemic racism. We need to self-reflect on our own words and actions. We need to talk less and listen more. We need to actively fight against racism, and challenge ignorant mindsets and micro-aggressions made by others, even when it’s uncomfortable.
In light of these recent events, I leave you with this challenge: What are you doing to ACTIVELY combat the disease of racism? Are you part of the problem, or, part of the solution?
Graig Weiss has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Foundation Academies since 2014. He began there 5 years before as Middle School Principal. A 2003 Teach for America corps member, Mr. Weiss taught Math and Science in the Bronx and the Dominican Republic prior to becoming an administrator and was selected as Teacher of the Year in 2007.
Prior to entering the education field, Mr. Weiss worked in the financial services sector with Cambridge Associates, LLC in Boston, MA. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Finance and Accounting from the University of Pittsburgh, a Master of Science in Teaching from Fordham University, and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership from the University of Scranton.