Black Lives Still Matter

Dear ATC Family,

It’s been more than a month since the murder of George Floyd, and we’ve seen much more discussion about racial justice and systemic inequalities amongst the broader public. This has already led to some initial symbolic changes (like removing Confederate statues and renaming streets after Black Lives Matter) and even the beginnings of meaningful policy change (like re-considering the role/scope of policing through funding and legal doctrines like qualified immunity).

And yet, it’s been over 100 days since Breonna Taylor was killed by police in her own home in Louisville, Kentucky without any significant change or accountability for the cops who killed her — none have been charged and two still remain on administrative assignment. There’s so much more work to be done to ensure justice for Breonna, George, Ahmaud Arbery, and every other Black person killed in the US.

While we must remain engaged civically and politically to directly advocate for a fairer, more justice world, we must also recognize our own roles in either disrupting or perpetuating systems of oppression. The criminal justice system is not unique: years of research have demonstrated the often fatal consequences of zero-tolerance policies and the over-disciplining of Black and Brown students in schools. By its very name, the School-to-Prison Pipeline highlights the complicity of educational systems in maintaining inequities within the criminal justice system. As a person of authority in those systems, as either an educator or law enforcement officer, if you aren’t actively working against the oppression of BIPOC, then you are tacitly perpetuating it.

Although newspaper headlines and social media feeds may have moved on to new topics, Black lives still matter. As we look toward the start of a new school year, it is especially important that we consider our own identities and how to foster diversity, equity, inclusivity, and belonging in our schools and classrooms.

Several weeks ago, Beina and the teacher development team left us with some powerful reflections and words of wisdom, challenging us all to consider these tough questions: 

  • How are you valuing yourself and others as it relates to your identity? 
  • How will you plan to create space for your students to value themselves and empathize with experiences outside of their own? 
  • How can you affirm and empower your Black learners’ identities in a world that does not?

These questions aren’t easily answered, and their implications are even less easily implemented. Like all great essential questions, no matter how much you’ve considered them there’s always an opportunity to learn more or to consider them from a different perspective.

Whether you are just beginning to answer these questions or if you are returning to these questions for the 100th time, I invite you to join ATC staff in an optional race and equity book study to deepen your thinking and set new commitments for the coming year.  Additionally, there are over a dozen free resources, webinars, and online courses compiled below for you to engage and learn at your own pace.

“Continuous Learning” only matters if you turn that learning into action, but acting without context can often prove even more harmful. I hope you take advantage of this opportunity to either expand your awareness of anti-racist education, historical systems of oppression, and racial identity development or to reflect more intentionally on how these show up in your professional practice.

In solidarity,