Community / Opinion

An Editorial on Freddie Gray and How Dana Has Handled It

As many of you know, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore black man, recently died from spinal injuries while in police custody. Peaceful protests have ensued against police brutality, but major news outlets and social media have chosen to focus on the property damage and looting that unfortunately accompanied the mostly lawful protesters. I join the protesters in questioning why a life was taken at the hands of those who are supposed to protect and serve?

The hardest thing about attending a school that you have dedicated so much of yourself to, is when it fails to acknowledge the issues that matter to you. I am glad last Wednesday’s morning meeting addressed the devastating earthquake in Nepal, and my prayers are with the victims. However, Freddie Gray and the Baltimore protests have not been mentioned. The fact that Dana Hall chose to go ahead with sports announcements during morning meeting rather than mention Freddie Gray is almost an act of violence. What message is Dana Hall sending to the little girls of color in the sixth grade, if we do not address the violence perpetuated against black people in America?

Dana Hall tries very hard to promote equality. But now, I am simply drained. Dana Hall has a difficulty addressing race-related issues, and therefore it chooses to put them on the back burner, or make them an optional discussion. I could attend a lunch discussion where maybe twelve people are present, but that will not make me feel as though I am treated equally at a school where it should be my right. Ultimately, racism is not optional; it affects everyone.

The only way to remedy this problem is for the school to respond more immediately to events surrounding racial unrest. As an institution for education, it is Dana Hall’s responsibility to stay up-to-date on the issues affecting its students. Dana Hall has conducted discussions in large spaces such as Waldo, with past guest speakers, and so we could have done so last Wednesday. The fact that Freddie Gray did not take precedence over sports presentations is hurtful.

On days without All-School Meetings, information about immediate important events should dominate class, morning, and advisory meetings. There do not need to be elaborate, 20-slide Power Points, just a safe space for thoughtful and honest discussion. By doing this, we would create more trust in the community between various ethnic groups and start to blur the line of segregation at Dana Hall.

Dana Hall is not at fault for racism. However, we have much work to do. After Ferguson, after Baltimore, or after I see another black boy murdered, which is disturbingly often, there has never been an immediate all-school discussion to follow it.

This school needs to be more assertive in getting students and faculty to participate in discussions on social justice issues. Well meaning but inefficient lunch discussions don’t do it for me anymore. Most importantly, when Dana Hall fails to talk about issues surrounding student of color, it is an act of erasure and it is perpetuating anti-blackness.

There was a time when I believed I mattered at Dana Hall. This soon changed when I felt my classmates and teachers that I respected did not care about the problems that affected me. The discussions on race and equality that do occur at this school have felt like an afterthought, or an obligation people are unwilling to do but have to.

The fact of the matter is that I, as well as other students of color, need to feel like we matter. The next Black person killed by police could very well be my father. My future son could be a hashtag.