Letter to the Editor: Take a stance that displays courage and decency

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This letter is in response to The Classic‘s recent editorial: “If this truly is the #1 school in New York, its leaders must condemn police brutality and act against it.”

I, as an old head Townsend Harris 1994 graduate, am very proud of these spectacular students of moral initiative. Keep doing what you do. I’m glad to see that THHS is in good hands and for that I am hopeful for the future. Now I’ll address the Townsend Harris Alumni Association and Principal Brian Condon:

In these turbulent times it is coming to the forefront for mainstream eyes that many social, health care, and economic variables have consistently affected people of color within a regressive scope. It all came to a symbolic head when the Covid-19 riddled body of George Floyd became mercilessly engulfed by the tentacles of racism represented by that perennial knee that’s been imposing itself upon Black existence for centuries. It’s a sad reality that this long established pandemic of anti-Black racism and the most recent example of disproportionate health adversities have collided most cruelly within the body of another Black man. It was recently discovered in an autopsy that Mr. Floyd was a carrier of the coronavirus. Did he know? Would he have been able to access viable treatment had he known? It speaks to the myriad questions we as Black people have to contend with because of an uncertainty toward hopes for fairness and institutional accessibilities. Sad to say that we don’t know. It’s sad to say that the disease of brutalization and systemic evil had snuffed out even the opportunities for George Floyd to address the ailment on his own terms thus saving himself and loved ones. It’s sad to have to cry out, “Not again!” It’s sad that it took this latest example of black subjugation, humiliation, and terror for the acknowledgment of what we’ve been yelling from the rooftops for eons. But here we are. What are we going to do about it because vocal cords are strained? It’s sad to say we don’t know if this new uproar from disparate communities of all backgrounds, faiths, and socioeconomic tidings will engender real meaningful change in a system designed specifically to simultaneously oppress, adapt, gaslight, and plausibly deny its very existence. These are solemn concerns to mull over within historical and contemporary contexts. It is also a concern if those who are in positions of influence and/or power are deciding to shirk their responsibilities of gripping the proverbial bull by the horns.

It is my hope that you will be able to understand that this Black Lives Matter initiative is about forcing this system and those who benefit from it to recognize and affirm the value of black life (quality and quantity) because by our own eyes it has not been made indisputable. Beauty standards, health care, housing, policing, wealth distribution, economic standing, political representation, lack of school funding, mass incarceration, etc. have made this assertion all too clear. We don’t have the answers right now, but my prediction of inertia via repetition is sure to be manifested if nothing is tried. It’s time to give this Editorial body what it rightfully demands.

Steer conversation, elicit change through collaborative action with those who are reaching out, take a stance that displays a courage and decency you’d want kids to proliferate in greater society, infuse classroom lessons with a true de-fluffed representation of America’s undertakings, and encourage all perspectives to enter the fold of diversity and dialogue. On a national scale it’s ultimately up to the bigger heads atop the totem pole of influence to trickle down their privilege to the ones that have been continually holding up the beacon of hope and the burden of America’s constitutional promises. Within these confines of Townsend Harris you can now on behalf of Mr. Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless other people of color do your part and breathe new life into the struggle.