Standing Up for Justice
Statement from Alameda County Superintendent of Schools L. K. Monroe
on the Verdict in the Trial of Derek Chauvin
APRIL 20 2021—Today, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd.
What we feel in this moment is less relief than a momentary reprieve from the pain, grief and anger that stemmed from an incomprehensible event in our history. And justice is certainly in the eye of the beholder as today’s verdict will not bring George Floyd back to his family, nor will it end the racism and violence that plagues our nation – and requires our continued vigilance and resolve.
I am keenly aware that our children are watching and experiencing this trauma deeply as well. We all have an obligation to be their educators. We cannot waste this opportunity to teach our children to recognize and speak out against injustice, to know when and how to defend the dignity and humanity of others. To be sure, they will learn even from silence.
It is difficult to teach what you yourself don’t understand. It is once again our collective responsibility to open our hearts and our minds to the searing pain and anger this horrific crime and others have inflicted upon our communities, not to turn away from it. Our children need to understand the imperfections and failings of our society in order to take up the mantle of righting our wrongs.
Our future as a nation depends on substantial changes to beliefs and behavior. Hatred, racism - both acute and systemic - and violence cannot stand. We have seen intolerable violence against members of the Asian and Asian American communities, against our vibrant communities of color, against our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors. The consequences are real and devastating and it must stop.
With an unwavering commitment to justice, all of us entrusted with our children’s care have an imperative to channel the lessons of the past and the intensity of this present moment to bend the course of history.
Please make use of the high-quality resources listed below to support educators and caregivers in having critical discussions with children and youth.
Photos courtesy of Heather M. Whiting Photography
Resources on Racism
To support our community with creating safe spaces for critical discussions and building agency and advocacy with children and youth, ACOE is compiling a list of high-quality resources. Because many students are at home at this difficult time, the following list of resources are identified for parents and caregivers in having discussions and supporting African American students with anti-racist education and self-identity. The resources are digital or easily accessible.
"The opposite of racist isn't 'not racist.' It is 'antiracist.' … One either allows racial inequities to persevere, as a racist, or confronts racial inequities, as an anti-racist. There is no in-between safe space of 'not racist'" (p. 9). Teaching for an antiracist future starts with us, the educators. An antiracist educator actively works to dismantle the structures, policies, institutions, and systems that create barriers and perpetuate race-based inequities for people of color. Educating students to see and respect the humanity and dignity of all people should be a national imperative, especially if we want to heal—and have a future—as a nation."
— Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist
"Oppression is a social trauma...that impacts entire communities... If these (traumatic) experiences... are not immediately followed by restorative experiences of finding safety and being acknowledged, these (automatic survival) reactions become stored in the body. Trauma stored in the body in this way shapes our perceptions and worldview in profound ways...the world around us may seem inherently unsafe." - Vanissar Tarakali