Racial Equity and Justice. Now.
In his poignant piece “A Talk to Teachers,” James Baldwin states, “Let’s begin by saying that we are living through a very dangerous time. Everyone in this room is one way or another aware of it.”
We are indeed living through a very dangerous time. With a global health pandemic impacting our everyday lives; unemployment reaching historic peaks; and our collective mental health and safety in constant jeopardy, we are left to figure out how to move forward in the midst of deep uncertainty. However, today, I’d like to acknowledge another pandemic we’ve been combatting for centuries that threatens our communities every day - racism.
As most of you know by now, 46-year-old George Floyd was killed while in custody of Minneapolis police. George’s murder is an all too familiar story that has played out for centuries in this country and outrage, frustration, and grief are driving thousands of protests around the country. The Minnesota police’s aggressive response to protests has resulted in violence and destruction. We are now bearing witness to yet another high profile series of racial violence.
We want you to know that Equity Institute stands in solidarity with our BIPOC community and with the protesters across the country. Our commitment to racial justice remains steadfast and as we wade through our own pain and despair, we know that our community needs us now more than ever. We are now experiencing another moment of racial tension and violence. Many educators and administrators should expect race-related topics surfacing during distance learning and when things “get back to normal.” We must be prepared to address this topic.
Depending on where you teach and serve, the transition into this new school year may include an additional layer of difficulty due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the racist events being highlighted on the media. Let’s be real: This type of behavior is not new. The major difference is now we’re witnessing these incidents on film.
Race should always be a central discussion topic, as our students are racialized and deal with racist systems daily. More importantly, teachers must be prepared to hold deep, thoughtful, and meaningful conversations about the realities our students experience. Anything less than this is a disservice to our students and works to mask the truth about the world we’re living in. As leaders, we must strive to understand students’ cultural backgrounds and experiences in an effort to create valuable learning opportunities. Perhaps, then we can start developing students as citizens who can view the world from multiple lenses and communicate and collaborate with individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds. Perhaps, then we can stop using language that divides us and end the hate that fuels racism and violence. Perhaps then, as teachers and leaders, can we continue to dismantle the systems that perpetuate inequities and racism. For us, powerful change starts in the classroom.
At the Equity Institute, we operate from a racial equity lens to support educators and leaders in building communities that are grounded in culturally responsive practices. We honor and live by one of our core values, a just society, where we envision all people, especially those who have been underestimated and underserved, are treated with respect, honor, and dignity. To follow through on this and stay true to our words, we cannot remain silent or neutral about racism and systemic oppression.
Our team members are committed to standing in solidarity with our community against anti-blackness.
We Stand With
And the many others that throughout history have lost their lives due to the complexion of their skin, the language they speak, the origin of their country, or any other identifier that doesn’t align with white supremacy.
Karla E. Vigil