Statement Regarding blackattms Instagram Account

A message from Head of School Laura Danforth regarding the @blackattms Instagram account
June 24, 2020

Dear Masters Community,
 
As you are likely aware, in recent weeks, social media has provided a forum for members of many school communities to share painful personal experiences with racism and bias at their schools. An Instagram account, which began posting this week under the handle @blackattms, has given a number of current and past students a space to share experiences that have caused hurt and have led them to feel demeaned, judged and excluded at Masters. I am deeply saddened by the painful experiences described in these posts, and I write today to reiterate my commitment to effect meaningful change and to dismantle racism at The Masters School.
 
I deeply respect the courage it takes for these individuals to come forward with their stories, and I honor the efforts being made to strengthen and move us toward greater alignment with our mission and its principles. Let us listen, learn and change. Healing begins when the experience has been witnessed, understood and empathized with.
 
Witnessing, understanding and empathizing is not enough, of course. I stated my commitment to anti-racist work firmly in a letter posted on our website on Friday, June 12. For those of you who have not yet seen it, please read it here
 
Furthering our social justice work at Masters remains a priority for me, and we are committed to bolstering that work through the curriculum, hiring, anti-bias training and other mechanisms of change. 
 
Last week, I met with a group of our current students and teachers of color and my question to them was, “What do you need to see in order to trust absolutely that Masters is an anti-racist school?” This is the essential question — and the answer is a charge to all of us. I ask you to join me as we make every effort to become a better, more courageous, more deliberate anti-racist community.
 
While we have emphasized issues of social justice through recent initiatives, there is much more that we can do. Our efforts need to be ongoing and relentless. We will use the testimonies on social media to help us advance our work and to engage our entire community in this essential dialogue and social justice movement. I am keenly aware that we are in a moment of history wherein all voices must be raised in opposition to the persistent and insistent scourge of racism. 
 
I encourage any member of our community, past or present, who would find it helpful to have a restorative conversation with someone at Masters about experiences with discrimination or racism at Masters to contact the School at abettermasters@mastersny.org.
 
I am in full support of speaking truth in the face of injustice, bias and racism. Let’s do this work together, constructively, earnestly and kindly. The true and lasting curriculum at Masters is helping our students develop the capacity to engage in constructive, open dialogue. Open dialogue requires being receptive to new insights and to growth — and allows others to grow as well. After the facts and figures of the formal curriculum have faded from students’ memory, my hope is that the courage to listen, to strive to understand, and to be a power for good in the world shall remain. 
 
Sincerely,
 
Laura Danforth
Head of School

The Masters School