Reflections from Rainier Scholars Leadership, Part 1


For a list of justice and community support resources, as well as anti-racism resources for parents, please click here.

Dear Rainier Scholars Community,

Like so many of you, I have spent this past week aching in heart and soul at the images of yet another brutal murder of a Black American man at the hands of the police. The death of George Floyd is but one more example of what results when we systematically deny people their rights, their freedom, their humanity and their dignity as people of equal worth, as people whose lives truly do matter. Tragically, this pattern of systemic racial abuse has been present in this country’s DNA since our founding over 400 years ago, and there are countless others who have suffered the same fate as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, victims of state-sponsored violence in a country plagued by attitudes of white supremacy, implicit bias, systemic oppression, an absence of police accountability and persistent anti-black and anti-people of color attitudes.

 The difference now is that technology and a viral social media landscape ensures that the truth of these horrific events becomes something we all see.

And in seeing, the call to act and respond and stand up for the ideals of equality that our society purports to hold true is stronger than ever.

We have seen previous generations answer this call to fight for those rights in profound and inspired ways, and the time continues to be now for our generation to do our part. This looks differently for all of us, just as the weight and burden of the current climate falls so differently upon all of us.

For our Black scholars, staff and families, and other people of color, in our community, the fear, trauma  and exhaustion of living in a society that so consistently brutalizes and oppresses is real, making it ever more critical for white folks and those who hold institutional power and privilege to speak out, bear witness and demand systemic change in all of the ways at our disposal.  Silence is not an option for any of us.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” and confronting the racism and inequality that is so endemic to our society matters beyond all measure, now and always, if we are ever to become the community we strive to be.

 At Rainier Scholars, we never have been nor ever will be silent about how much our scholars mean to us and to the future of our community.

We approach scholars as if they are members of our own family, and seek to serve them with as much love and commitment as we do our own. One of our goals at Rainier Scholars has always been to prepare our scholars to navigate the realities of our system while empowering them with the education needed to take on the system as it is in hopes of transforming it in some way by their presence and leadership. We are also well aware of the toll and burden that combating systemic oppression can take, and we continue to remind scholars, families and staff that our organization is here to support you in any way needed at this current time (see below for specific resource list). Equality, opportunity and access to resources for all remain core to our mission, as does our commitment to supporting all in our community in any needed ways as we battle both the Coronavirus and the even more vicious diseases of racism and inequality.

 In closing, I will return to another Dr. King quote I have used on many occasions for inspiration: “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”  However, it does not bend on its own, but rather, only with persistent and consistent pressure from those who seek a more justice filled world will it move even a little bit.

In commitment,

Sarah Smith, Executive Director