Students Lead a Courageous Conversation about Current Events
This past Monday, student leaders held a Courageous Conversation open to alumnae, faculty, students, and parents — the discussion was centered on racism and current events. Bianca M. ’21, Elikem K. ’21, and Julia G. ’21 came together with the help of Lauren Lewis, Director of Diversity and Inclusion/Senior Associate Director of Enrollment, to host the virtual event. More than 50 people participated representing all of these constituent groups, including alumnae from every decade from the 1970s to 2010s.
Bianca explains what inspired the girls to hold the event, "We felt like the Foxcroft community needed to have a conversation after the death of George Floyd. We wanted this to be an opportunity for everyone regardless of their race to ask questions and talk about their feelings around the protests and racism not only in the U.S. but worldwide."
After Lauren read the mission statement and community agreements — which included listening, giving space to others, and understanding that there may not be a resolution — Kassinda Usher ’93, Co-Chair of the Alumnae Council Diversity and Inclusion Committee thanked the girls for hosting and thanked everyone for attending.
Elikem opened the conversation by asking how everyone was feeling. Though some had difficulty verbalizing their emotions at first, many shared sentiments of sadness, anger, and disappointment. Veda Howell ’73, one of Foxcroft’s first Black graduates, shared that unfortunately these types of situations, such as what happened to George Floyd and others in the news recently, are ‘not new,’ but she was encouraged and hopeful to see the next generation take a vested interest in improving the world.
Many alumnae on the call spoke about their experiences and reflected on the blind spots they were beginning to unveil and explore. Raquel Morris ’13 talked about what it was like to be the only Black girl in her grade, which put a unique pressure on her to hold conversations about race and to provide a different viewpoint for her classmates.
Overwhelmingly, both alumnae and students of color reported that while they did encounter some situations at Foxcroft that were less than ideal, they felt strongly that overall Foxcroft was a supportive and nurturing place and a large reason that they have the confidence, strength of friendship, and support they feel today. Tonya Butler-Truesdale ’82 shared, “I’ve only had two white friends call to see how I am doing, and they are both Foxcroft friends — and I think that is very telling.”
Bianca reflects, “After hearing from parents and alumnae during the conversation, I feel a sense of hope and motivation to take concrete steps to make Foxcroft a more inclusive place.” Bianca, Julia, and Elikem have all been involved in several clubs on campus (The Black Student Union, We The People, Hand in Hand & Global Cultures) whose goals are to create space and inclusion for all. In the past, in partnership with the Office of Student Life, they have held events on campus such as a silent movement (where attendees stand as the host reads various statements of experience: I have felt judged by the way I look or I have not known where my next meal was coming from), The Defamation Experience, a ceremony honoring Martin Luther King Jr., and many smaller student Courageous Conversations within dormitories and classrooms.
The girls are already planning next steps, and cannot wait to host another open Courageous Conversation. When they do, we hope you will be able to join in for these important discussions.
An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.