November 17, 2020
Dear Gilman Families,
We are writing to acknowledge two issues in the 2020 edition of Cynosure, Gilman’s annual yearbook.
One case involves the senior class photos on the inside covers of the yearbook. In each photo, a senior (Class of 2020) is displaying a hand gesture frequently used in the popular “circle game” and that is an upside-down version of the traditional “OK” sign. In the last few years, a form of this gesture has been adopted by certain groups as a symbol of white power and supremacy.
The other case is found in the Year in Review section, which chronicles notable events in the world beyond Gilman that helped to shape the overall year. One entry, when describing the World Health Organization’s declaration of the outbreak of COVID-19, refers to the disease as the “Wuhan coronavirus,” a term we now know to be insensitive.
We have sound reason to believe that neither the hand gesture nor the use of “Wuhan coronavirus” was ill-intended. Even so, readers may and do, understandably, see them as hateful and hurtful and, therefore, contrary to the values that Gilman espouses. We missed these images and words in the editing phase, and we certainly do not condone their use as hateful and derogatory symbols and language.
Every year and around every turn, we are presented with opportunities to learn and grow, and to make sure our work engages the wide array of races, ethnicities, and religions that make our community so rich. We see these yearbook pages as examples of such opportunities. As we move forward, we will continue—through what we say, do and, in this case, publish—to strive to be our best selves and to foster an environment that is inclusive to all of our boys.
Thank you for your ongoing partnership in this important work.
Henry P. A. Smyth
Johnnie L. Foreman
Director of Community, Inclusion, and Equity