Whether it’s the horrendous killing of black people at the hands of law enforcement, or the unjust discipline policies in schools that target black and brown children, or the huge opportunity gap that exists in public school systems across our country -- all are rooted in the evils of systemic racism that permeate our society.
As an organization whose mission is to fight inequities in public education and to grant opportunities in the classroom too often afforded to only white children, we stand in solidarity with the protestors who peacefully demand justice for victims of police brutality. We stand by the parents we serve, many of whom are raising children of color who risk becoming the next victim of racism – costing them their education, or even their lives.
We ask our city and state leaders to listen and heed the calls for substantial change. As a very first step, we stand by Representative Reginald Bolding’s call for transparency in the fatal DPS shooting of Dion Johnson, and the swift implementation of body-worn cameras for all law enforcement officers.
We also ask our leaders to acknowledge that Arizona is not immune to the dangerous underlying biases that lead to tragic death after tragic death – and cause distrust and fear in our communities. We ask each public servant in our state to take a moment and reflect upon their own assumptions, prejudices, and biases.
Particularly if you are of European descent, on a personal level, we ask that you actively and continually work to root out your own internalized racism and be willing to have direct, respectful, uncomfortable conversations with friends, family, or co-workers who make racist comments. Ask yourself and your families, what is your first reaction when you see a person of color in your neighborhood? Do you assume they don’t belong there? Can you honestly say that you are judging, in the words of Dr. King, not by the color of someone’s skin, but on the content of their character? Do you assume that character is honorable if someone is white, and threatening if they are black or brown? These difficult conversations must be had if we are going to surface the underlying causes of these tragedies and correct them.
Finally, we offer our support to those who are speaking out and standing up for what is right. We are committed to identifying and advocating for state and local solutions and meaningful change. We are standing with you.