We heard the three guilty verdicts in the George Floyd murder case.
Yesterday, April 21, all CT3 team members refrained from email, Zoom meetings, and work to reflect on the changes they could make (in their own actions and communities) to act against racism and actively commit to those changes. While it would have been fairly easy for us to continue to work and move forward, we took pause for this important moment in our country’s path to change.
Our team members reflected on the questions below; I’m honored to share their responses.
Question: How do you recommend that fellow educators reflect on this verdict personally and with their students?
A: To my fellow white educators – take this opportunity to reflect on your privilege and use your power to take action against the inequities that exist in your school and community. Listen, learn, engage in conversations, and take risks that demonstrate your compassion for people of color. Like MLK, Jr. said, the time is always right to do what is right.
A: No matter the verdict, generations of harm, hurt and violence will not disappear. Unpack with your students how discrimination based on race is misaligned with the beliefs on which this nation was founded. Tell them that many of this country’s leaders and citizens, throughout its history, have acted in direct opposition to those beliefs, and that they must NOT. Teach them that we are counting on them to help America be what she’s supposed to be.
A: Equal justice under the law has been written into our constitution for over 150 years but it hasn’t been true for far longer. One verdict can never right the wrongs that have taken place in this country. It won’t erase the need to reform our systems to better serve all people. This verdict can bring justice to a family whose son, brother, & father was tragically ripped away.
A: In this moment and beyond it, we must commit to being “abolitionist educators” on behalf of our children of color. This way of being requires constant, deep reflection and commitment on a personal and professional level. Take time today to consider what you will do and what you are willing to risk to ensure your children of color feel deeply loved, seen, valued and safe – in the face of this verdict and far beyond it. Recognize that this verdict represents accountability, and there is still so much more work to be done. Take time to consider your own reaction and how your lived experience impacts it. Then consider the messages you will send, the reflection and conversation you will empower your kids to have, and the aligned actions you will commit to every day moving forward on behalf of your students of color. As your students, they need and deserve nothing less.
A: As a white educator, regardless of the verdict, I plan to (and I recommend my fellow white educators)- take the risks to 1. Put themselves in the shoes of Black Americans and contemplate what it is like to live, witness, and experience the trauma of anti-Black racism and the pandemic of police killings and what it feels like to see this officer on trial while so many others have not been 2. Reach directly out to a person in their own family who may not be reflecting on the verdict and its implications and communicate what they felt in this exercise of empathy with Black people in America today. 3. Reach out to a Black student, parent, colleague or friend and let them know you have reflected in empathy and are open to listening to their experience of this trial/ the police brutality epidemic in general if and when they are ready to share.
A: In the works of rapper Killer Mike… Plot, Plan, Strategize, Organize, Mobilize.
A: What it must feel like to be Black in America. Endlessly dismissed and utterly exhausted. May this verdict ease the suffering of so many, allow for rest to those utterly exhausted, and a glimmer of hope for those who have given up hoping. I plan on using my time to rally others to pressure US senators to take up the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. While the answer lies not in police reform but in the defunding of policing and transformation – reimagining public safety, this is a necessary move to ensure there is some movement forward. While I have not found any planned marches/protests, I will be in search of an opportunity to march in solidarity for Black lives and to recall and say the names of those victims and families of victims of police brutality still awaiting justice.
If you have not already, please reach out to your US Senators. You can find where to contact them along with an email to copy and paste here. Please share with others and encourage them to do the same.
Question: How will you use the time to reflect that is provided by CT3? Why do you think it’s important?
A: I plan on using my time for personal reflection with my family. I think this time is important to process how we will communicate the implications of the verdict to our kids. We will work on checking out books/resources for our kids that are age appropriate that discuss antiracism, injustice and equity. We also will spend time reflecting on what we can contribute to causes that support antiracism and equity. — “Watch what I do to see what I really believe.” — Sister Helen Prejean
A: I will use it to appreciate the verdict for 9:29, a fraction of the time I’ll spend thinking about my commitments to continued and heightened anti-racist action.
A: I plan to communicate with 10 of my white friends and propose that we brainstorm an idea for an action or a legislation we can back this week as white people in support of our fellow Black Americans, because while the verdict brought justice, it didn’t take back Floyd’s life nor all the other lives of Black people killed and being killed at the hands of police.
A: Regardless of the verdict, I will reach out to family and friends to make sure we are all able to manage and process our emotions and actions.
Question: What impact does this verdict have on your belief about our judicial system and the actions that must be taken to reform it to ensure equal treatment under the law?
A: It gives me a sliver of hope that there is still some humanity and decency in the world. It would NOT change my opinion that the system is currently broken in so many ways. It would be more of an “even a broken clock is right two times a day” feeling. I would then turn my attention to the sentencing to see what sort of justice will be meted out. I will continue to advocate for reforms to our system. For example, I will push for the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and donate to organizations lobbying for policy/legal reform.
A: I hope this verdict sets a precedent for justice in police killings of Black and Brown Americans. However, racial disparity still pervades the US criminal justice system, and for African Americans in particular.
Statement from Nataki Gregory, Ed.D., CT3 CEO