Posted by Dr. Sharon Desmoulin-Kherat on 6/1/2020 4:00:00 PM
Dear Peoria Public Schools students, families and staff,
While I have not historically weighed in on national matters, I am finding it hard to remain silent as I see our community hurting as protests and riots broke out locally and across the country in response to the horrific death of George Floyd.
What I keep thinking about is the over 13,000 students in Peoria Public Schools, and the pain our African American students, especially, and others are feeling right now, and how this is a pivotal moment for our country. We know that a recent study by Harvard Public Health Professor Dr. David Williams shows that police shootings of unarmed African Americans cause severe psychological and physical trauma within the African American community, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. We also must acknowledge the missed opportunities and inequities of the past, both socioeconomically and in education.
As the leader of Peoria Public Schools, a backbone and important foundation of our community, we have an opportunity to be a voice for change and a healing presence in our communities. Choosing silence and indifference may not be what our community needs right now. As Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Now is the time to do everything we can to make sure students and staff feel safe and are treated equally. We have our work cut out for us, but I know Peoria Public Schools is up for the challenge. We need to be leaders and encourage everyone to choose kindness, tolerance, understanding and empathy. It’s time to love each other and come together to treat everyone with respect and dignity.