Our hearts are heavy. Over the weekend, violent hate crimes ravaged communities in Buffalo, NY and Dallas, TX. In Buffalo, a white man opened fire and killed 10 people in a supermarket in a predominately Black neighborhood. He targeted this neighborhood in order to intentionally harm the Black community. In Dallas, police are investigating a series of shootings in Asian-run businesses. Please join us in remembering and honoring the victims and sending love and healing to these communities. Let us say the names and learn the stories of each community member lost.
Aaron Salter, Jr.
Katherine “Kat” Massey
Roberta A. Drury
Margus D. Morrison
These senseless deaths are a result of fear and ignorance, a fear that pervades corners of America. As the murderer explained in his writings, he travelled 200 miles to kill innocent Black Americans because of his belief in the “Great Replacement.” This conspiracy theory claims that white people are being intentionally replaced with people of color for economic and political gain. The origins of this theory can be traced to French nationalism in the early 1900s, later adopted and promoted by white supremacists. Today, we can hear the idea advanced in some public discourse.
This is fear grounded in racism, fear of being a minority in a nation that historically mistreats people in the minority.
We can fight fear through education. After all, hate is learned. I wrote those words three-and-a-half years ago after the murders of 11 people worshipping at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA. I said them after the murder of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Sun Cha Kim. These latest hate crimes are another reminder to look to the Anti-Defamation League’s Pyramid of Hate as proof that hate is not inevitable. At the very base of the pyramid are the behaviors stereotyping, making insensitive remarks, and fears of difference. If those behaviors are not squelched, if they are not prevented, if they are not addressed in our schools and communities, they can escalate into acts of bias, into violent acts like those we saw last weekend.
As educators, it is our responsibility to teach young people of all ages to recognize, respect, and celebrate our differences. It is also our charge to see, name, and talk about the richness in our difference. We can fight hate with an understanding of and appreciation for people different from ourselves.
Every single one of us, from the seat we are in and the skin we are in (especially our white brothers and sisters or those, like me, who have proximity to whiteness), is called to action to continue leveraging our platforms and spheres of control and influence to address this ugliness.
Indeed, education is our most powerful weapon against history repeating itself again and again and again.
Nancy B. Gutiérrez, Ed.L.D.
President & CEO
Dr. Nancy B. Gutiérrez is President & CEO of The Leadership Academy. Nancy joined The Leadership Academy in 2014 and has served as National Leadership Designer and Facilitator, Vice President of District Leadership, and Chief Strategy Officer. She was named President & CEO in July 2018 and continues to serve as an executive leadership coach and facilitator for school systems across the country. She was a Fall 2019 Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow, and in February 2020 was named among the 100 most powerful education leaders in New York by City & State New York. Nancy is a frequent keynote speaker for local and national education organizations and has authored numerous pieces on education leadership and equity for national publications including Education Week, Kappan, The74, and Hechinger Report. Nancy began her career as a teacher and principal in her home community of East San Jose, CA, where she was the founding principal of Renaissance Academy, the highest performing middle school in the district and a California Distinguished School. Nancy also led the successful effort to turn around the district’s lowest performing middle school. She was named the UC Davis Rising Star and Association of California School Administrator’s Region 8 Middle School Principal of the Year in 2010. Prior to her tenure with The Leadership Academy, Nancy launched a program for executive leadership advancement for the New York City Department of Education that led to superintendent certification. Nancy is a graduate of the inaugural cohort of the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) program and is a graduate of the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents (ALAS) Aspiring Superintendents Academy. She served on the national board of the Coalition of Essential Schools for more than a decade. She is an instructor at NYU and frequently teaches at the Harvard Principals’ Center institutes for School Turnaround Leaders, Urban School Leaders, and Race, Equity, Access, and Leadership. Nancy is a member of the Board of Directors at The Hunt Institute, Brightbeam, and Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC) and serves on the Latinos for Education teaching team. Find Nancy on Twitter @nancybgutierrez or LinkedIn.