California Educator

April 2015

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 23 of 59

C O N V E R S AT I O N S A B O U T R A C I A L J U S T I C E can be uncomfortable. CTA members participating in the Black Lives Matter training at CTA's recent Equity and Human Rights Confer- ence in Burlingame knew that entering the room. They also knew how important it was to acknowledge the inequalities, the injustice and the opportunity gaps that are daily hurdles for black and brown people in America. Talking about Race Members were there to talk about the Black Lives Matter movement, which began as a hashtag after George Zimmerman's acquittal for the shooting death of Tray- von Martin in 2013, and gained momentum after other police-involved shootings. African American participants spoke of the fear in their heart every time their sons left the house, and the worry that their child could be killed for being black or 'in the wrong place at the wrong time.' They told of being dismissed by colleagues when they expressed an idea at school. They described the challenge of having to be an overachiever just to be taken seriously. A Latina teacher talked of the challenges involved in educating family members, noting that at her school, some students are told not to play with Mexican or black kids. Another member noted that GLBTQ students are frequently victims as well. What was clear at the end of the training: There is still much work to be done and many more conversations to be had in order for all of our students to feel safe in their communities. In an effort to continue this conversation, the Educator sat down with Chauncee Smith, a Racial Justice Advo- cate for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California, to find out how teachers can discuss racial justice in their classroom. 1. Is it a good thing for schools and educators to become involved with the current movement for racial justice? Yes, at its heart, the current movement for racial justice aims to make the constitutional promise of equality a reality for all Americans, across racial lines. Seeing that today's youth will eventually be the adults who run our nation, their social development in fur- therance of racial equity is pivotal. Because schools and educators spend a tremendous amount of time with youth, it would be great if they could integrate the movement for racial justice into the classrooms and everyday lives of our future leaders. 2. What role can unions and CTA play in promoting the current movement for racial justice? Unions and the CTA can play a vital role in advanc- ing racial justice by harnessing the collective power of their membership to advocate for reforms that push our society towards equality, fairness and jus- tice. This year, the California Legislature is consid- ering numerous measures that would reduce racial inequities in our state education and criminal justice systems. I would encourage unions to support them. In addition, they can participate in grassroots racial justice mobilization efforts. 3. How can students benefit when their teachers share information about the current movement for racial justice? Students, as human beings, don't know or under- stand race and inequality until they have life experi- ences. Their exposure to the present movement for Awareness Perspectives 22

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of California Educator - April 2015