Our Response to the Murder of George Floyd
The murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers and the protests that have occurred in response provide a sobering reminder that we still live in an America that remains separate and profoundly unequal. For educators, this can and must be a teachable moment. No other institution has the presence or the mission to provide the guidance needed to help our children understand the significance of the moment we are in.
Our children are watching. They have access to social media. Like millions of others, many have seen the film of George Floyd being murdered by a police officer. They want to know why this is happening and what will be done about it.
At the Center for Transformation of Schools, our primary objective is to create schools that all students deserve, schools that are free of racism, that challenge inequality, that address the basic needs of children, and allow them all to develop their potential. Systemic racism has been evident in the disproportionate burden we have seen on Black communities and other communities of color during the current COVID-19 health crisis. Throughout the United States, people of color make up 45% of all essential workers—which means they are more likely to be exposed to or infected by COVID-19. They are also less likely to have the critical resources required to be safe during a pandemic. CTS is committed to addressing these structural issues and the anti-Black racism that frequently accompanies it.
This is why we stand in solidarity with the peaceful protests that have been occurring across the nation. We stand with those who are literally risking their lives, during this COVID-19 pandemic, to state clearly and unequivocally that they have had enough. There is a multi-racial coalition of people on the front lines demanding racial justice. This is encouraging. We are hopeful that this moment is a much-needed wake-up call that will revive our democracy, particularly at a time when the first amendment is under attack by those who call for “dominating the streets”. Education must safeguard our democracy.
CTS is committed to working with parents, educators, students and policy makers in devising policies, practices, and pedagogies that address racial injustice and that build safe and inclusive schools and communities for all students. Let us take this opportunity to reimagine schools so that we can come out of this crisis with schools that are better, more just and more equitable, than they were before.
Six years ago, we first heard the phrase “I can’t breathe…” when the victim was Eric Garner, a black man who died at the hands of a group of police officers in New York City. Last Monday, George Floyd uttered those very words while he was being murdered by a police officer in Minneapolis.
Enough is enough. We support the protests and share the outrage arising in response to these injustices. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe nor politic nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.” The Center for the Transformation of Schools at UCLA adds our voices to the chorus of those demanding justice. These voices, our voices, must be heard and we must hold our leaders, our public institutions, and ourselves accountable for making concrete changes.