The murder of George Floyd last week by a Minneapolis police officer is not just the result of one single police officer, it is the result of the ongoing, deep-seated racism in our country.
The images swirling on our tv’s and through our social media feeds show a devastatingly aggressive militarized police force. Peaceful protests around the country are being met with tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber bullets. The violent images are difficult to watch, but the understanding that they reflect an ongoing unwillingness of our nation to fully address and solve the institutionalized racism that perpetuates harm and death on black bodies is what is most traumatizing. The message is clear and it is urgent: Black Lives Matter.
As an organization that aspires to serve our students to work toward freedom and liberation, it is an inspiration to see Black youth across the county draw on a long history of resistance to oppression as they lead these protests. Their rage is empowering and just.
We cannot remain neutral about racism. Our three schools will continue to support our community in the fight against racism, and we will continue to develop anti-racist policies and culturally sustaining pedagogies to create anti-racist schools that support and develop teachers, staff, and students to have a just and equitable understanding of what it means to fight for our shared humanity, especially for those who are most vulnerable. Four of the seven leadership hires for next year at our schools are BIPOC. Our diversity, equity, and inclusion work continues to be an urgent priority. Our staff are reading anti-racists texts such as White Fragility by Robin Diangelo and How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi and are having hard conversations about our own bias and the work we must continue to do to support our BIPOC students and staff. Later this month we are sending a cohort of teachers and administrators to an online conference on how to dismantle white supremacy in schools. Our schools have a long way to go, but we are committed to doing the difficult work of dismantling white supremacy.
If you are looking for texts to inform your understanding of racism in our country, White Fragility is a great place for white people to start. Ibram X. Kendi also has a list of antiracists texts you can access here. Reading these books and discussing them with your friends and family is a necessary step to understanding the long history of racism in our country and how white people perpetuate it.
The Black Lives Matter website has a variety of useful and informative resources.
It has been a heartbreaking and exhausting week. For those of you who have participated in protests, please continue to check in with your support system and to take good care of yourselves. For those of you who are in despair or isolated, reach out to someone you love and ask for support. You can always start with your school advisor.
To our Black students and staff: we see you. You matter. Black Lives Matter. We are committed to supporting you.