IH Acts Against Racial Inequality

In these historic times, as millions across the country and around the world have united in protests against systemic racism, Immaculate Heart recognizes it can no longer simply rest on a time-worn legacy. It must be the catalyst for change by actively supporting a more equitable and inclusive environment for the school community it serves.
In short, Immaculate Heart is using its voice and taking action – as it has encouraged its graduates to do for more than a century – to make a positive difference in the world.
Since 1906, Immaculate Heart has remained true to its mission of educating and empowering the young women of Los Angeles. Guided by the leadership of its founders, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Immaculate Heart has demonstrated for 114 years an unwavering
commitment to great heart and right conscience, to civil rights and equality, and to social justice and diversity.
In the wake of the recent murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Immaculate Heart affirms, unequivocally, the value and dignity of Black lives because Black lives do matter. “The administration joins me in solidarity with our Black students and Black members of our school community - families, staff, alumnae and friends for whom these days have been particularly painful. I honor your strength and cherish your voices,” IH President Maureen Diekmann wrote in a June 4th letter to the campus community.
But in light of ongoing civil unrest, Diekmann said it’s time for Immaculate Heart to stand up not only for its ideals, but to take specific steps against racial inequality for the good of the school community and for society in general.
“We have been doing the work, but we recommit to doing more,” the president said. “We now seek to move Immaculate Heart forward in specific ways toward greater understanding and actions that not only welcome, but celebrate, our Black students.”
In response to concerns echoed by students and alumnae, Immaculate Heart has reached out to members of all constituency groups. Since early June, administrators have been having conversations, both formal and informal, with students, parents, faculty and staff, as well as members of the IH alumnae community, to confront what needs to change in society and on
the IH campus.
Following these meetings, Immaculate Heart will form a representative task force that will create an action plan for addressing racial inequality. This plan will be finalized by the start of the coming school year. “Our goal is to identify actionable steps, and we are hopeful our students, alumnae, parents and friends will walk alongside us to help guide the way,” Diekmann said.
In advance of an action plan, Immaculate Heart has already initiated other steps, including:
♥ An ongoing dialogue on racial inequality: The high school is hosting Google Meet discussions throughout the summer that bring students together with faculty and staff after viewing selected documentaries that shed light on systemic racism. “Our students proposed this idea as an
opportunity to learn and grow in our understanding of how we can better support Black lives and uphold anti-racist practices,” IHHS Principal Naemah Morris explained.
♥ Required summer reading on racial injustice: Book selections for summer reading for all Immaculate Heart faculty and staff focus on racial injustice and oppression. At in-service in August, employees will participate in roundtable discussions on the books they’ve read and
address how ideas presented in the readings might better inform the school’s current policies and practices in individual classrooms and offices as well as institutionally.
♥ Curriculum Review: Department meetings have already started this summer to review curriculum and explore ways to increase knowledge and understanding of Black history and the Black experience. “We are reviewing all the books and materials we are currently using,” IHMS Principal Gina Finer said.
♥ Diversity and Racial Bias Training: The administration expects to schedule diversity and racial bias training for faculty and staff and, at a later date, for the entire student body.
♥ Safe Spaces: Both the high school and middle school are exploring additional ways, such as activity periods, where conversations about race can take place. “The administration is committed to ensuring students have safe spaces and the tools needed to engage in difficult but necessary conversations,” Morris said.
Looking to move forward with Immaculate Heart’s efforts against racial inequality? Please know Immaculate Heart remains committed to providing Financial Aid support to Black students. If you'd like to contribute your support, there are two ways to give:
Immediate Support -A gift to the new Black Scholars Initiative will provide financial support to deserving Black students in the current school year.
Ongoing Support - A gift to the Gertrude Dunn Memorial Endowed Scholarship will support Black students for years to come. The Dunn family established this endowment in 1984 specifically to provide scholarships for Black students. The fund was created in memory of Gertrude Dunn, a former elementary school teacher who believed passionately in the power of education and was committed to educating a student body that truly reflects Los Angeles. Gifts to this Fund are invested for long-term growth, and a portion of the earnings are distributed as Financial Aid Scholarships each year.
For more information on the Black Scholars Initiative and the Gertrude Dunn Memorial Endowed Scholarship Fund, please visit "Support IH" on the Immaculate Heart website: www.immaculateheart.org.
An independent, Catholic, college preparatory school for girls in grades 6 through 12, Immaculate Heart has been located on a beautiful hillside property in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles since our founding by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1906. We celebrate more than a century of nurturing the spiritual, intellectual, social and moral development of students as they distinguish themselves as women of great heart and right conscience.