These are more than just names; these were people: Two sons and a daughter. A beloved brother. A niece. Father of a 6-year old girl. An aspiring nurse. A jogger.
Tragically, this pattern of deaths is not new, and these are not the only names of people who have been killed because of the color of their skin. In just the past year, over 1,000 black people have been shot and killed by police – not including those who died in police custody. George Floyd’s plea of “I can’t breathe” was identical to the last words spoken by Eric Garner as police officers pinned him to the ground in 2014.
We want to honor all the human beings who have lost their lives and shed a light on those whose names we will never know.
Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered. We must hold each other tight and continue pulling back the veil – Adrienne Maree Brown
This time must be different. We must all go beyond public statements of solidarity.
We must start asking different questions, building new relationships, and cultivating new habits. We desperately want our Black children, some of whom are participating in their first protests this week, to have a different experience in our community and with our country’s institutions than their parents, grandparents, and great great great great grandparents. We want them to thrive and live freely in their skin.
To get there, we are asking ourselves: How are we inadvertently perpetuating racism and specifically “anti-blackness” in our own work and in the systems we work within? How can we interrupt those patterns and actively dismantle racist policies and practices? How will we hold ourselves accountable to design new systems that are intentionally anti-racist?
We are supporting Black-led schools and making grants to Black-led organizations in our city who are creating anti-racist learning cultures in schools. We commit to do more of this.
We will learn, read, and listen to the Black community so the language we use and the resources we rely on to support our city’s educators are anti-racist. We are especially inspired by the work of the National Equity Project, the Oakland NAACP’s work on early literacy, the Black Teacher Project, and Zaretta Hammond.
Our public education system is the most powerful lever to raise the next generation of anti-racist leaders in our country. In order to do that, we must disrupt systematic racism and build an education system that creates the conditions for everyone to thrive. If you see a way we can do more to ensure our public schools are anti-racist, please let us know. We promise to do the same.