Branson Stands Against Injustice, Discrimination, and Inequity
A Letter to the Branson Community from Chris Mazzola and Claudia Lewis:
We write to you today not just in our roles as Head of School and Board Chair, but also as committed members of Branson's "beloved community" – to use Dr. Martin Luther King's phrase calling for a society based on justice, equal opportunity, and love for our fellow human beings. In the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor – and too many others before them – we recognize the layers of pain, anger, and sadness present within our community.
First and foremost, our love, support, and solidarity goes out to the African American and Black members of the Branson community, past and present, who are uniquely impacted by these events. We stand with you in support of social justice, equity, and human dignity, and we reject racism and violence in all of its forms. We honor your strength and grace in the midst of this trauma.
Branson aims to be a place where our core values of courage, kindness, honor and purpose guide our relationships with one another. Our beloved community, with the respect and love we have for one another, is at the center of what we most value about Branson. We must hold tight to that love and respect, extend our hands to one another, and find ways to do better in the struggle against the racial injustice that has plagued our country for too long. At this crucial moment in our nation's history, it is critical that we acknowledge the hurt felt by so many who have been systematically marginalized and mistreated in our country.
The only way we will turn the dial and create the society – or even the Branson community – that we wish for is to name, object to, and take action against injustice, discrimination, and inequity. By staying silent, we enable injustice and hatred to prevail. If we are to actually teach our students to be better humans and to create a better world, we all must engage in the honest examination and dialogue that will enable our students to become agents of change and healing.
Discrimination, racism, violence, and hatred have no place in the beloved community we are working to build and sustain at Branson, and neither does silence in the face of oppression and injustice. There is work to do and there are difficult conversations to be had, but we are here to join each of you in that endeavor. As a school and place of learning committed to excellence, we have the resources and wherewithal to take on these conversations, but it will take the resolve, strength, and desire of every member for such conversations to inspire real change.
Transformation will only come with love, understanding, and a commitment from our hearts to do better and be better. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince, once wrote, "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye." Humans are at their best when we act from the heart, because from our hearts come empathy, understanding, care, and love.
The purpose of a Branson education is not solely to catalyze the brilliance and potential of each student, but also to realize the common bond we have with each other in working to create a beloved community. Let this be the beginning of a deeper commitment to meaningful dialogue and to confronting racial inequities in our school and beyond our gates.
Christina K. Mazzola