A Message of Hope
As educators, we stand behind and deeply appreciate the ethnic and racial richness of the community we serve. In this common message, we ask you to recognize that the events unfolding these past few nights are not an anomaly but the norm in this country. Whether it be taking a knee or speaking a different language–RACE MATTERS, and we need to make it matter in a positive way that benefits all our children.
For some of us, this repeat of the unacceptable acts that have plagued this nation for more than four centuries clearly sends the message that Black Lives Don’t Matter. The media’s report that this “looks like a war zone” continues to demonstrate a disconnect about the war that is fought every day by our African-American students, their families, and all families that differ from the dominant culture–a war about being recognized and being treated with dignity, respect, and appreciation.
When injustice is committed by those who have taken an oath to protect and serve, the racial equity lens looks very different based on our lived experiences. Black families’ experiences have taught them to have The Talk with their children almost from birth–and the Talk never ends: respect for the dominant culture authority, rising almost to a fear. Black families’ experiences have taught them to work twice as hard to get half as much, that no matter how loud they scream, they are not heard.
Our local precincts and those around our nation echo the familiar refrain: “This tragic incident, committed under the color of authority, is a violation of what we stand for” (Vallejo Police Chief Shawney Williams, Vallejo Times Herald, 5/30/20.) But the denouncement of wrong is only the beginning. It is time to act, to treat people of color as role models for our children, as exemplars of what is special and what is especially good about living in America.
Instead, the media and our leaders focus on the results, not the cause. Black taking from White is the subtext played from Fox to CNN. They emphasize the looting, rioting, and destruction of the downtown buildings owned by dominant culture wealth. They focus on the marginal, talking about the type of restraint used on George Floyd. Instead we must focus the conversation on what we can do to put more leaders of color into positions of power. It is a conversation about spreading wealth and opportunity to young Black men and women and of recognizing the value they bring to our society.
We must focus on the truth. It is important for us to say the names: Eric Garner, Ezell Ford, Michelle Cusseaux, Tanisha Anderson, Tamir Rice, Natasha McKenna, Walter Scott, Bettie Jones, Philando Castile, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Eric Reason, Dominique Clayton, Breona Taylor, Amadou Diallo, Sam Dubose, Freddie Gray, Terence Crutcher, Alton Sterling, Jamar Clark, Jeremy McDole, William Chapman II, Walter Scott, Eric Harris, Akai Gurley, Michael Brown, and GEORGE FLOYD. #ICantBreathe
If their crime was being Black and if most Americans actually find it acceptable to be gunned down for that crime, then it seems inexplicable that the country is as calm as it is. But we do not feel that Americans find this acceptable, and we’re sure that GTA families do not.
As a nation and as a community, we can do better. We must do better. Our children and our students watch what we do, what we stand for, and what we say. Silence is an action and our voice is our greatest weapon. We must use our voices to say that our country is on fire, a physical fire that represents the oppression our families of color feel and reflects an anger and passion for understanding and acceptance.
Two hundred eighty-eight million people need to speak out about the injustices experienced by the nearly fifty million African Americans. But we cannot wait for that to happen.
We need to be heard in our community about the value of our families of color. They are part of the solution, an example of what is right with Vallejo and with GTA. We need to speak out acknowledging them as role models for our children and equal contributors to excellence in education.
We close tonight with heavy hearts and with a hope that we will collectively be visible and be heard in our push for racial equity in our neighborhoods, in our schools, in our community, in our state, and across this country. We at GTA support the work of our families of color, our work, THE WORK. #BlackLivesMatter #GTAStrong
In your service, educating and leading for what is right,
Griffin Education Association
Griffin Technology Academies Board of Directors
David Yoshihara, Superintendent