Apr 21, 2021


Black Lives Matter at Greene Street Friends School

Today, April 21st many members of the Greene Street Friends School community are processing the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. We are reeling from the death of unarmed 13 year-old Adam Toledo and Ma'Khia Bryant, two teenagers one of whom was the same age as many of our Middle School students. We believe that Black Lives Matter, but how do we educate students in a world where that statement is increasingly false? Where GSFS families live in constant terror that their child, partner, parent, or other beloved could lose their life simply because of the color of their skin and the biases and hate that our society have attached to them? The following poem has been shared widely on social media and seems to capture the mood for many members of the Greene Street Friends School community:

“I need to drive my two-year-old to daycare tomorrow morning. To ensure we arrive alive, we won't take public transit (Oscar Grant). I removed all air fresheners from the vehicle and double-checked my registration status (Daunte Wright), and ensured my license plates were visible (Lt. Caron Nazario). I will be careful to follow all traffic rules (Philando Castille), signal every turn (Sandra Bland), keep the radio volume low (Jordan Davis), and won't stop at a fast food chain for a meal (Rayshard Brooks). I'm too afraid to pray (Rev. Clementa C. Pickney) so I just hope the car won't break down (Corey Jones). When my wife picks him up at the end of the day, I'll remind her not to dance (Elijah McClain), stop to play in a park (Tamir Rice), patronize the local convenience store for snacks (Trayvon Martin), or walk around the neighborhood (Mike Brown). Once they are home, we won't stand in our backyard (Stephon Clark), eat ice cream on the couch (Botham Jean), or play any video games (Atatiana Jefferson).

After my wife and I tuck him into bed around 7:30pm, neither of us will leave the house to go to Walmart (John Crawford) or to the gym (Tshyrand Oates) or on a jog (Ahmaud Arbery). We won't even walk to see the birds (Christian Cooper). We'll just sit and try not to breathe (George Floyd) and not to sleep (Breonna Taylor)."

Our community, especially its BIPOC members, are exhausted. And some of us are hopeless. We have watched the story of racism play out too many times in America, on stages from Philadelphia around the world. Our students, though weary and exhausted, are not hopeless. In fact, our Middle School students are determined to change the world for better, to fight for justice, to deconstruct anti-racist systems, and to advocate that Black Lives Matter. Their lives, and the lives of those they love, matter.

Earlier this spring, Middle School students launched the Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action here at Greene Street Friends School, a national movement to bring Black Lives Matter movement principles like Intersectionality, Affirming Queer and Trans Black Lives, and Centering Black Women into classrooms. After Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action concluded, 5th Graders expressed a desire to organize a visible demonstration on campus and continue advocating for change. Holding homemade signs and leading chants, 5th Grade students stood on School House Lane and encouraged neighbors to honk in support of Black Lives Matter and engage in anti-racism work. Going back to our mission statement to empower world changers, our students were a visible presence for justice.

Just a few weeks later, all Middle School students gathered for a virtual Black Lives Matter assembly, examining principles of the Black Lives Matter movement more closely. Leaders from Ancestor's Wildest Dreams, the GSFS Black Student Union, began the assembly by sharing the history of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Students then watched "Don't Call Me Woke" by Lyonzo and had a worship share to develop ideas for action and encourage one another to deconstruct racism, in themselves and in the world. The assembly concluded with small groups of students creating posters based on the principles of the Black Lives Matter Movement, which you can see a slideshow of below.

As of today, April 21st, Black Lives seem to still not matter in many corners of the world.
Black Lives Matter at Greene Street Friends School.
Black (student) Lives Matter at Greene Street Friends School.
Black (faculty/staff) Lives Matter at Greene Street Friends School.
Black (parent and caregiver) Lives Matter at Greene Street Friends School.
Our Middle School students, or world changers, are challenging us to make Black Lives Matter. Always. Everywhere.