The trial verdict - our journey to respect, change, and understanding continues

Tom Wilschutz

Dear Solebury Community, 

I write to you with mixed emotions as I process the outcome of the trial of Derek Chauvin: relief mixed with sadness and anger, renewed commitment tinged with hope.

The relief: it appears justice was not blind in this moment as the jury in the trial of Derek Chauvin held him accountable for the murder of George Floyd. Relief that many communities need not explode in violence and rage at another unjust verdict with no viable option for change. Relief for the Minneapolis community and the family of George Floyd that they might find some small bit of solace in the outcome of this trial. And relief that facts still matter: I watched the video, I listened to Mr. Floyd plead for his life, and I trust what my senses took in...the verdict confirms the reality that I witnessed. 

The sadness and anger: another Black man lost his life at the hands of those who are supposed to protect him. There seems to be no end to the violence this nation perpetrates on people of color. How many times have we asked, “how many more Black lives must be lost before there is fundamental, systemic change?” From the very beginning of our nation, violence was part of our DNA. It seems now, hundreds of years later, that violence remains part of our DNA. Must we accept the fact that this is who we are and change will not happen? What do I tell my students, especially my students of color, when they look to me and my colleagues for answers, for a path forward to a better future? 

My commitment: to keep working to improve my small corner of this world. To continue to shape our students, as they make their journey from adolescence to young adulthood, into ethical humans with integrity and a conscience. To see that the young adults who leave Solebury School then enter the world as ambassadors for good and agents for change to help create a world where diversity is celebrated and Black lives matter. 

Solebury School promotes a profound respect for each individual and recognizes how diversity enriches a community. As I think about the Solebury School community, I am heartened that the future will be different than the past, progress will happen, and systemic change will be incrementally achieved. I am hopeful that good will triumph. And while our journey to that promised land will continue to be difficult and painful, Solebury School is committed to helping our students engage the world about them. We do this by practicing how to listen with understanding, working to speak one’s truth, and continually seeking knowledge to inform our points of view. Each of us accepts our responsibility for shaping a better world for everyone. Last night was an important moment, but only a moment in a journey. Our quest for respect, change, accountability, and understanding continues. 

Sincerely, Tom