Confronting Racism and Other Forms of Oppression at St. Ignatius College Preparatory
"My friends, we cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life." Pope Francis (June 30, 2020)
"Amigos míos, nosotros no podemos tolerar ni hacer la vista gorda ante el racismo y la exclusión de ninguna forma y pretender defender lo sagrado de la vida humana." El Papa Francisco (30 de junio de 2020)
Dear St. Ignatius College Preparatory Community,
Over the summer, we have spent considerable time discerning how we have been called to create a more just, loving, inclusive, and equitable school environment for all members of our community. We have received critical, heartfelt feedback from our students and alumni about their experiences as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and other marginalized identities. We are grateful to our students, alumni, and faculty and staff who have challenged us in the last few months to be better through their stories and leaning in to difficult conversations about racial equity and inclusion at SI.
“To do justice requires an honest acknowledgment of our failures and the restoring of right relationships between us.” -Open Wide Our Hearts, USCCB
The lived experiences of racism and other forms of oppression by members of our community have provided a clear and urgent call to action for the SI community. We are faced with our institution’s history of perpetuating systems, structures, and policies that have silenced and oppressed our already most vulnerable and marginalized community members.
Black lives matter. We are living in a racially transformative time and we need to do better to understand where and how we have failed and harmed our communities of color. We acknowledge that we have caused trauma and have been complicit in systemic racism. As a Catholic, Ignatian school, we understand that we are accountable to making SI a more safe, loving, and anti-racist community of belonging for all. The Profile of the Graduate at Graduation calls us to be open to growth. We are committed to acknowledging our failures and growing in our work to combat systemic racism. We are ready, now more than ever, to deeply engage in the work of anti-racism.
As a Catholic, Ignatian community, we believe that all of humanity is made in God's image. We unequivocally condemn all forms of prejudice, racism, and injustice towards all human beings no matter their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, physical or mental abilities, socio-economic means, or other identities that result in marginalization, hatred, and violence. We believe in human dignity as the sacred foundation of our faith.
“What is needed, and what we are calling for, is a genuine conversion of heart, a conversion that will compel change, and the reform of our institutions and society...each of us should adopt the words of Pope Francis as our own: let no one “think that this invitation is not meant for [them].” -Open Wide Our Hearts
Racism is a system that impacts all members of society and puts Black, Indegenous, and People of Color in harm. Anti-racism is our responsibility. We value your insight and opinion and want your voices to be a part of this continued conversation to make St. Ignatius healthier and safer for our current and future students, families, and faculty and staff.
It is with the love and admiration we hold for SI that we all want the future of our school community to be a powerful anti-bias force for good. We expect the entire Saint Ignatius community will support this work and lend your voices, experiences, and opinions to the progress we all seek.
We move forward in this work trusting in God, guided by the example of Jesus, and inspired by the Ignatian ideal of living our lives for and with others.
Summary of DEI Strategic Initiatives for 2020-2021 and Beyond
As outlined in our Western Catholic Educational Association Accreditation Plan from spring of 2019, Saint Ignatius College Preparatory has identified seven critical action areas of growth in the area of Equity and Inclusion. These action items direct us to:
- examine our current culture and climate;
- what we are currently doing to address racism and other forms of oppression;
- the effectiveness of our programs and initiatives, and;
- what we need over the next four years to address these issues and improve the outcomes of our community members.
This will not be a top-down initiative. We seek to involve the community in the examination, planning, and implementation of our work. It will be organized into five key areas.
- Key Area #1: Conduct a needs assessment to ascertain the school's degree of inclusivity amongst students, faculty, staff, parents/guardians.
- Key Area #2: Increase opportunities for dialogue and create a communication strategy to help members of the community understand current work in equity and inclusion.
- Key Area #3: Determine where the school needs to integrate a culturally responsive curriculum, centering the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color into the academic program, and create a plan to address these areas.
- Key Area #4: Review co-curricular, campus ministry, and spiritual formation programs to ensure they are attentive to issues of equity and inclusion.
- Key Area #5: Recruit, hire, support, and retain faculty/staff/admin of color.
St. Ignatius College Preparatory values the diversity of our school community, which is reflected in individuals of different races, genders, ethnicities, socio-economic groups, religions, physical and mental abilities, and sexual orientations; we recognize that encountering and respecting diverse perspectives is central to a Catholic, Jesuit education. In a fragmented world where people have difficulty understanding and valuing the experiences and perspectives of others, our Catholic, Jesuit tradition calls us to establish pathways through which diverse individuals connect with and understand each other. Although much work has been done in the areas of diversity and cultural proficiency, we understand our work is not finished and there are significant areas of growth for us.
We are grateful for your partnership as we continue to learn and grow and live out our mission to develop students with a profound sense of justice founded in love. Thank you for journeying with us to create a more just, welcoming, safe, equitable, inclusive, and hopeful school community, consistent with our sacred mission and human dignity.
We welcome community members to engage in this continuous and critical reflection and dialogue. We will keep the community informed as we work to establish these spaces with intention and purpose.
Edward A. Reese, S.J.
Michelle Nevin Levine
“Love compels each of us to resist racism courageously. It requires us to reach out generously to the victims of this evil, to assist the conversion needed in those who still harbor racism, and to begin to change policies and structures that allow racism to persist...
Racism is a moral problem that requires a moral remedy—a transformation of the human heart—that impels us to act. The power of this type of transformation will be a strong catalyst in eliminating those injustices that impinge on human dignity. Also, taking direct and deliberate steps towards change. Consequently, we all need to take responsibility for correcting the injustices of racism and healing the harms it has caused...
Only from a place of humility can we look honestly at past failures, ask for forgiveness, and move toward healing and reconciliation...” -Open Wide Our Hearts