Sylvester Middle School
16222 Sylvester Road SW Burien, WA 98166

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School Closure 2020

June 6, 2020

Sylvester Families,

I am certain this letter finds you and your family reflecting on the state of race relations in America following the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. I am certain you are aware of the protests demanding justice. I am deeply saddened by the loss of life, the absence of justice, and prevalence of ignorance and apathy regarding the plight of Black and African-Americans. How does this happen in a society committed to justice, equality, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? 400 years of oppression. 

If you are a reader of history, you will know Black and African Americans have been constitutionally and socially dehumanized. Ibram Kendi said  “Racially discriminatory policies have usually sprung from economic, political, and cultural self-interest, self interests that are constantly changing.” If you are worried that I am preaching politics in school, that is not my goal. I am advocating to restore the humanity of Black and African-Americans. 

As an educator, I am wondering what we are teaching our children. Why do we obscure, exclude, and distort the truth? Why are we so afraid to talk honestly and openly about the benefits of discrimination as the cause of racist ideas, ignorance, and hate? What explanation do we have for our children that so many Americans say, “I am a good person, I am not racist,” while racism dominates our institutions, policies, and laws, and actions?

Speaking of actions, are we doing enough?  We will only have change when we have changed our laws, policies, teaching practices, our minds, and our hearts. The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”  

 “We are in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat.”  I know we have people in this community that are also demanding justice and change. I invite each of you to stand with me and figure out how we will advance the cause of anti-racism to restore our dignity and humanity.

Sincerely,

Gil Parsons

Principal, Sylvester Middle School