Action Plan for The Mary Louis Academy
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Over the past few days, I’ve read and heard about the horrible experiences of current and past TMLA students. I’ve had to relive and be reminded of my own negative experiences at The Mary Louis Academy. It is clear that TMLA has exhibited racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, and overall prejudiced behaviors towards minority groups. In addition to the explicit actions by students, teachers, and administration, TMLA continues to ignore the cries of their students while protecting the very people who display these behaviors.
The Mary Louis Academy has constantly stressed its philosophy of “unity, reconciliation, and all-inclusive love”. Unfortunately, it has become clear that this motto is a façade and in no way describes the actions of many of their staff and students. There is nothing unifying about young women feeling like their cultures, identities and livelihoods are not valued. There is no love in staff members spewing microaggressions and bigotry onto their students while refusing to learn. And you cannot swear to revere all creation when you do not actively denounce intolerance and hate against humans.
This petition is not an exposé of the violence enacted by staff and students. It is a demand for change. The Mary Louis Academy as A LOT of work to do before they can wholeheartedly represent love and unity. The following is a series of suggestions (read: demands) for TMLA administration to take as a starting point. We recognize that our school functions under the Sisters of St. Joseph and The Diocese of Brooklyn. However, no change has ever occurred from complacently waiting or succumbing to institutionalized prejudice. We need our teachers and administration to not only advocate on behalf of their students but educate themselves. These demands are as follows:
1. The Mary Louis Academy needs to create a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion model. This can take the form of hiring an education consultant, outside group, or professional who specializes in ensuring that academic institutions are consistently and actively working towards diverse and equitable spaces. The bulk of the work our school needs requires professional intervention.
2. The Mary Louis Academy needs to diversify its staff. Currently, the staff board does NOT mirror or represent the diversity of the student body-- and it never has. Young people need teachers, coaches, counselors, and role models that they can identify with. This staff diversity should include but is not limited to race, gender identity, ethnicity, age, and religion.
3. The Mary Louis Academy needs to implement semi-annual Diversity training for their staff. A specialist in diversity, race, and equity in Education should be hired to lead this training. It would be unfair and ultimately irresponsible to have a current staff member to take this on.
4. The Mary Louis Academy needs to issue an apology for their decades of insensitivity and harm against minority students. It is not enough for individual teachers to apologize for the behaviors of their peers and leaders. The school as an institution needs to reconcile its history of intolerance and denounce hate. In addition, individual teachers should be encouraged to apologize for the pain they have cause students—past and present.
This list is only the beginning and I recognize that it is not conclusive. There is much more that The Mary Louis Academy can and should do to not only support their students and alum but potentially be a model for other private institutions in the city.
I encourage TMLA alum, current students, teachers, staff, parents, and even outsiders to our school to sign this petition as a push for change. I heavily encourage white and non-black folks to sign this petition in solidarity with those who have and continue to be impacted by bias and hate. We are living in a revolution and it is clear that demands, action, and movement incites change. The Mary Louis Academy needs to assert that Black Lives Matter. In the words, of Desmond Tutu, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Your students and alumna do not need neutrality. We need action.
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