Dear Long Beach Unified Community,
Over the weekend, we learned of the horrific mass shooting in Buffalo, NY, where a gunman targeted a grocery store in a Black community after posting racist, white supremacist messages online. In the end, 13 people were shot, with ten of them tragically losing their lives.
On behalf of the Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education, as well as our Black Student Achievement Initiative Advisory Committee, we send our deepest condolences to the families, friends and loved ones who are undoubtedly shaken by this senseless tragedy.
A little over a year ago, I wrote to our LBUSD community that “We Stand with Asian Americans,” after a mass shooting in Atlanta that killed eight people, mostly women of Asian descent. A few days later, I expressed that “We Stand with our LGBTQ Community,” after a rainbow-colored lifeguard tower, painted by lifeguards in honor of Pride month, was burned down in an act of hatred against our LGBTQ community. Prior to those incidents, our District shared messages in support of our Black community after the murder of George Floyd.
Once again, we are left with an overwhelming sense of grief and sorrow that can be incredibly hard to process. For starters, we can all show compassion for people who may be affected by such an act of violence, especially our children.
Today I want to express our unwavering support for our African American students, families, staff and larger community. And once again, I say that we must unequivocally reject all forms of hate and bigotry in our community. More than any other institution in America, public schools teach people of all backgrounds to respect one another. As recent events illustrate, our ongoing work on issues of equity is more important now than ever.
In times like this, young people may struggle to articulate their feelings and emotions, but it’s important to do so. Any student who needs help is encouraged to talk to a trusted adult at their school. LBUSD offers a number of resources for student social and emotional support, including Wellness Centers at each high school, and Family Resource Centers at various sites. In addition, organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League have provided helpful guidance on how to talk with young people about the Buffalo shooting.
Our LBUSD team takes seriously our responsibility to teach our children to uphold principles of equality and respect for people of all backgrounds. We remain deeply committed to ending all acts of hatred and violence, which stem from ignorance and prejudice, and we deeply appreciate all who continue to support this critically important work.
Jill A. Baker, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools