Letter to a Fellow Educational Leader

Dear Sarah,


How are you doing? It sounds like you have been through some hellish experiences. I am so sorry you were not offered the position in London, and that the people in China are acting out their racist beliefs. Do not worry though, at the risk of sounding trite, I must say, what is your will come to you, and it will be a damn site better than what you are currently experiencing. In the meantime, take care of yourself!! Pamper yourself. Nourish yourself, and be very, very good to yourself. Paint, watch movies, listen to your favorite podcasts, buy expensive jewelry online… Do whatever makes you feel good and make your partner cook all the meals!


I am feeling full of vim and vigour after completing my morning run and making myself a gorgeous breakfast of turkey ham, French bread, well-done scrambled eggs, and fresh passion fruit juice and coconut juice mixed together. I was even going to eat a large slice of plain cake as we call it here in the Caribbean, but I figured that would be too much, well, at least for now. That will come later. One would think I would be huge eating this kind of stuff, but to be honest, I have lost 30 pounds in the last two years. Not sitting for endless hours writing my dissertation has helped. Thank goodness my degree is finished and it has not been in vain. I also run and swim regularly, and I fast one day a week. I started fasting for lent, and I feel so much better fasting one day a week so I will continue this practice indefinitely.


This morning I jogged along the south coast, heading south. The scenery is beautiful and I love watching and chatting with the surfers. These people have no fear, and it reminds me to have no fear in life as well. Surfing is a bit too full on for me, but I have pushed through my comfort zone to take stand up paddle boarding lessons. I love this sport and I would like to become good at it. It is important to have sports or physical activities that you love to do. It alleviates the stress of the demanding work we do, and we can build a community with like-minded others to discuss things other than assessments and accreditations. Sometimes I wish I was more of a surfer. Those men and women are super hot and super chill!


Speaking of work, I am not the least bit surprised about your school’s owner’s attitude towards making you the principal. They said no, right? I am sorry that you were not even interviewed after the current principal advocated for you. The owners have taken on the racist belief that white is superior and they want to have a white face representing the school. Staying on and training the new principal is a flat out insult. Do not do it!!!!!!! I will use your term here. You are not a mug!!!


Now, where was I? I decided to eat the cake after all. Man was it good! Let the current principal train the new person. He is paid the big bucks to do so. However, I see he is in a weird position too. Racism affects everyone. He is basically being used for his white face. I would hate to be hired just for my brown face.  That has got to feel uncomfortable. Because of the racism Asians are experiencing in the US and Europe, you would think that the Chinese people in your company would know better and not put up with biased hiring. Those people are so unaware and clearly caught up in their own internalized racism, and sense of inferiority. I could understand it if they wanted to give a local, national person the opportunity to lead the school. Take head of the movie, Get Out, and get out, I say! If you want to be in London, keep applying there, and also apply to schools in other counties that you fancy and are a lot more diverse and welcoming.


As far as incompetence, well, this is everywhere. I am sorry to hear they messed up your paperwork. Again, square things up with this school, and move on when you can do so. Frankly, it is going to take some time to address diversity, equity, and inclusion in international schools. These schools started as elitist, neo colonial entities, and the old while males leading them are not going to want to let others into their ‘Club’. I will never forget my previous head’s comment to me when congratulating me on my first headship. He actually said, “Welcome to the Club”.


So, my friend, it is about time we start our own club, or at least our own way of doing things. I have often been the lone black voice in international schools for over 25 years and so I am going to take advantage of the diversity movement and advocacy championed by groups like the ISS Diversity Collaborative and AIELOC. It is great to not be the lone voice for a change. I also want to support other women by mentoring them and by hosting retreats for female education executives, when it is safe to travel again. By the way, feel free to start calling yourself an education executive because you are.


Finally, if your heart tells you it is time to move on, honour that. I just encourage you to take the time to select the best option for you. You do not have to accept the first thing offered. You will get there! We all will in time.