Race, Culture, and Ethnicity
In 1688, Friends in Germantown wrote and signed the first written protest against slavery in America. Their participation in this protest grew out of their historical commitment to human rights, a commitment grounded in Friends’ belief that God may speak through any human being. In America’s 17th century, to acknowledge the humanity of African-Americans and to pro-test their bondage was a profoundly anti-racist stance for the time. We have learned—in the centuries since that signing and despite the leanings toward equality intended by the Society of Friends—that it has been difficult, if not impossible, for anyone, including Quakers, to live in this society and not be tainted by racial prejudice and discrimination. More than three hundred years after the signing of that protest, the Meeting and the School seek to act on that continuing belief that God may speak through any of us and to translate this spiritual commitment to the ideal of racial equality.
At Germantown Friends School today, we intend to create a school community which supports the intellectual and spiritual growth of all of its members, working with and across our cultural, racial or ethnic backgrounds in a spirit of inclusion. We believe this can best be achieved by acknowledging that we do not live in an homogeneous nor a color-blind society. Furthermore, we have no desire to create one. Instead, we wish to understand, learn from, and embrace our differences through our curriculum and to build a school community that is inclusive of and knowledgeable about the diversity of cultures in the community around us. We intend to create opportunities where every student can engage in multiple perspectives pertaining to race, culture, and ethnicity. By our choice to remain in the urban, multiracial community of Germantown, we affirm that lessons of racial diversity will be a central manifestation of our commitment to Friends’ teachings.
Germantown Friends School intends to set forth an open door to all members of our multiracial school community and to the communities that individual students represent. One way that we began to achieve this vision was by seeking the enrollment of more students of color and actively seeking faculty of color and the knowledge and experiences that they bring. We intend for the perspectives of people of color to be constitutive of who we are as a community of learners. We also intend to involve all members of our community in understanding the meaning of diversity and the significance of our various racial identities in order to work towards a fully inclusive, equitable, and accountable multiracial community. We believe that these steps will reaffirm our commitment to creating a safe and invigorating environment for cultural exchange and intellectual growth.