“We continue to see an appalling number of events where police harm the Black members of our society, and we share the outrage at the indifference to life and safety expressed by some of those sworn to serve and protect us.
Black lives matter. We cannot tolerate police actions that allow compressing the neck of an unarmed man in handcuffs, as we saw with George Floyd, or no-knock police raids in the middle of the night by plainclothes officers, which resulted in the death of Breonna Taylor. Better training will help, but our culture must no longer accept these barbaric practices. We cannot reach our ideal of freedom if we fear our police.
The institutional racism inherent in our society is tenacious, and as educators we have a responsibility to work to abolish it. While this will without doubt take time, we can act today to affect the culture of our homes and our campuses. Our students need to feel safe and respected, and though the worst offenses took place a thousand miles away, our alarm and disgust are present here and now.
We call upon our members to enhance their discussions of equity and diversity in light of these continuing shocking events. Will your campus use a police force in dark, threatening uniforms, or an unarmed public safety team? Will there be a focus on control or on safety? Will their training guide them to de-escalate or criminalize behavior? Now is the time to press our campuses to be bastions of hope rather than simple reflections of society.
It is the responsibility of educators to teach all students, some of whom will become our future leaders. Together, teachers can affect change in a way that most other professions cannot. Through your actions and influence, we can be the model that shows others how to reduce racism and inequity in our communities. Let’s channel our personal grief and anger to do so.”
Yours in unity,