Dear Bellevue Community,
In my letter to the Bellevue School District community last Monday, on October 9th, I talked about the beloved community, and how people in a beloved community grieve with each other and comfort each other when hurting. That is true, and I am hearing inspiring stories of people doing just that for each other. Another important aspect of being part of a beloved community is the shared responsibility we hold for the impact we have on one another, regardless of intent. It’s important that we hold ourselves accountable when harm has been done. Considering that, for those in the Bellevue School District community who felt harm by my letter from last week, I humbly apologize. Recognizing the pain and suffering of one community was not intended to diminish the pain and suffering of another community, and yet for some that was the impact.
The intent of that letter, written in response to the violence in Israel and Gaza, was to come alongside students, staff, and families in pain and to show love and care for ALL of our students, staff, and families – regardless of religious, racial, cultural, or national background. That for sure is my heart in this given situation. However, while some in our community did feel seen and comforted, others did not. Many of those who felt betrayed by my words shared with me that it wasn’t because of my acknowledgment of the grief and loss of life in Israel, but because of what they felt was a lack of any acknowledgement of the grief and loss of life in Gaza and the anxiety and fear felt not just by our Jewish community but by many in our Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities here in Bellevue as well.
I want to thank everyone who sent me messages, shared the impact they felt, and graciously “called me in” to this discussion rather than calling me out. I particularly want to thank BSD students who connected with me and shared your truths with such courage, wisdom, life experience, and understanding of geopolitical dynamics. Although schools are typically places where we want you as students to learn: your teachers, principals, and superintendent continue to learn a lot from you. You truly are creators of your present and future world, and you give me hope that one day we will be able to live the vision for a beloved community, not just here in Bellevue but across the world.
With that, I’m committing to doing better to model care for our whole community, humility when things don’t communicate as intended, accountability to repair harm, and the continued dedication to lean in and try over and over again for as long as it takes for the thriving of our community.