International School of Amsterdam Statement on Racism, Discrimination and Injustice

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

Nelson Mandela, Address to the Joint Session of Congress, Washington DC, June 26 1990

 At ISA, since our mission is ‘to educate for international understanding’, we believe that our shared humanity is what unites us. When we recognise and uphold what it means to be human and combine this with the qualities of open-mindedness, respect, and empathy, we can build deep connections across cultural divides, value diversity and support each other by standing up for human rights.

No person in the ISA community shall be treated differently, separately, or have any action directly affecting them taken against them on the basis of race, religion, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. As a school, we are committed to listening, learning, and taking action to address racism, discrimination, and injustice both within and outside of the classroom. We stand in solidarity with all members of  Black communities and all members of other marginalised groups who experience discrimination.

“If we accept and acquiesce in the face of discrimination, we accept the responsibility ourselves and allow those responsible to salve their conscience by believing that they have our acceptance and concurrence. We should, therefore, protest openly everything … that smacks of discrimination or slander.”

Mary McLeod Bethune, Certain Unalienable Rights, 1944

We recognise that systemic racism exists in society and is embedded in mainstream culture. At ISA, we are privileged and often disconnected from the discrimination and suffering that others experience in the world, and many of us are unaware of the unconscious bias that we hold due to the history and persistence of white supremacism within our global societies. We cannot, however, hide from the reality that injustice and inhumane treatment of others continue, as was recently highlighted by police brutality resulting in the murder of George Floyd in America or the countless others like him around the world. We also cannot blind ourselves to the prejudice and disrespect that members of our own community experience in their everyday lives, including on our own campus.

 “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”

Barack Obama, address to supporters on Super Tuesday, February 6, 2008

As a school, we acknowledge our greater responsibility in educating our community and realising change.  

These are the first steps that we commit to taking immediately:

  1. Educate ourselves about racism and discrimination; examine our own values and dispositions, developing awareness of our own biases and prejudices. 
  2. Develop an explicit Equity and Diversity policy for our school, including an examination of diversity in recruitment and hiring.
  3. Review programmes with faculty to ensure that anti-racism and anti-discrimination pedagogy is incorporated across all age groups and subject areas. 
  4. Support and collaborate with the ISA Diversity Task Force to implement an Equity and Diversity campaign in the next academic year.
  5. Empower students to lead initiatives and to advocate for themselves and others within our community on issues of anti-racism and anti-discrimination.

We are committed to ensuring that our actions are not performative but are in fact substantive and reflective of the principles of our mission, vision, and beliefs and that by doing so we will make our community a safe space for all. 

“It means a great deal to those who are oppressed to know that they are not alone. Never let anyone tell you that what you are doing is insignificant.”

Desmond Tutu, South African civil rights activist

For further resources, review the Anti-Racist and Social Justice booklists for summer reading on the Upper School library website or the following websites. 

Anti-Racism & Social Justice Resource List

Please note that to access the Sora reading lists, you will need to have an ISA libraries username and password. Please contact our Upper School Librarian, Kim Tyo-Dickerson ( for information about your Sora account. Students, parents, faculty, and staff are all able to have a Sora account – these resources are available to our whole community.

For advice on how to talk with children about race:

An eleven-year-old girl talks about institutional racism:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Martin Luther King Jr., Letter From a Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963