New Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent tells community, ‘I share in the grief and anger’

Editor's Note: The Kalamazoo Public Schools issued this statement on racial unrest on June 3.

June 3, 2020 

Dear Friends, 

Thank you for welcoming me with open arms into the Kalamazoo community. It already feels like home and I’m committed to working hand in hand with you to make our city and our world a safer, kinder, and a more just place to live and thrive. 

I never thought that the nature of my first letter to you would be the one that you are about to read. I want to share with you my thoughts and feelings as a member of your community today, as well as the KPS superintendent. Our nation is in crisis. The worst and best parts of our national character have been on display since the tragic death of George Floyd. The aftermath of the tragedy took a different form when parts of our city were vandalized after a few days of heartfelt protests. Protesting is a human right. I want our children to learn about the power of protests and the important role they’ve played in our history. I want to acknowledge the work and dedication of the peaceful protesters in Kalamazoo. I also want to differentiate them from the rioters who destroyed parts of our city with selfish, divisive, and opportunistic intentions. 

George Floyd’s death adds to our shameful history of racial abuse, discrimination, and violence toward our fellow citizens and communities. It continues to claw at the very fabric that holds us together: humanity. The recent loss of other Black lives – Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor – exemplifies the racist acts and aggression in this nation. This warrants a careful critique of our roles as educators, as citizens, as humanitarians as we all wrestle with our pain, anxieties, and fears. I share in the grief and anger that many of you are feeling. As witnesses to this moment, we are charged to examine why in our nation, for some of our citizens, we have failed to live up to the true meaning of its creed of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all. 

There are some among us who fear that they and their loved ones are mere steps away from meeting their end with impunity. This is not the time to be onlookers; it is time for us to find the strength within ourselves and across our respective communities to do what we can, with all we have. We all need to find measures of self-healing and be there, unconditionally, for our Black community members. We need to work diligently to understand the depth of pain and sadness they are feeling. I stand ready to offer any support to all of our families, staff, and students as we work together for this much-needed change. Please look for resources posted on our website to facilitate conversations about racial discrimination and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Please know that I, the Board of Trustees, and Kalamazoo Public Schools, stand with you in these moments of crisis. We will be announcing shortly the launch of our comprehensive Equity Task Force. I may take a bit to get to know KPS, its families, community, and staff. We will be analyzing all new and old KPS policies with an equity lens using a well-researched, nationally recognized equity framework. It is my hope we will be making recommendations that will be helpful in creating the equitable KPS we all want. I pledge to listen to you, learn from you, and work with you to figure out how KPS can be part of the larger solution to a more kind and compassionate future. Let's stand together and find the strength to be guardians of humanity. 

Black Lives Matter! 

Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri 
Superintendent 
Kalamazoo Public Schools
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