FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Contact on behalf of Boston Teachers Union:
Vishakha Mathur, 617-485-7709
Boston Teachers Union issues Statement of Solidarity with our Black families and Community; Denounces Anti-black Racism and Police Brutality
BOSTON, MA — The President of the Boston Teachers Union, Jessica Tang, issued the following statement this afternoon:
“It is with a very heavy heart that we find ourselves in a position, once again, of having to make a statement in solidarity with our Black community members and to denounce police brutality, while reaffirming our commitment to fighting anti-black racism and fighting racism of all forms.
The recent national media attention on the tragic murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and on the racially motivated assault on Christian Cooper, have painfully continued to expose what we know for too long has always been there — the reality that our society is built on systems and institutions that continue to oppress and harm black people and perpetuate racism and white supremacy.
We, as educators serving predominantly Black, Latinx, APIA, and indigenous students, have a duty to confront and undo our own internalized prejudices and bias, and to fight to transform the systems that perpetuate and enforce them. In our quest to create the truly equitable schools that our students and educators deserve, we cannot ignore how social, racial and economic disparities impact both our communities and our classrooms.
Words, however, are not enough. While we will continue to plan and support our Black Lives Matter Week of Action, as well as our Black Caucus, Haitian Educators Committee, Immigrant Rights/Unafraid Educators, Ethnic Studies Now! and other BTU committees that specifically advance racial justice, we must also create more ways through which our union can continue to address racial bias, and, specifically, anti-black racism.
At all of our conferences, we will have racial equity workshops. This includes our Summer Organizing Institute, Fall Leadership Conference, Winter Conference, and Parent 2 Parent Conference. For the next year and beyond, I am asking that racial equity training be a requirement for all of our elected Building Reps, staff, and for our Executive Board. I am urging all of our members to take time to participate in these opportunities to further our own learning and understanding of racial equity because that understanding is fundamental to the work we do and to what we stand for.
The work to dismantle racism and the systems that perpetuate them must begin with us — with each individual being willing to listen, learn, self reflect and lower our defensive reactions. All of us have both ideas to unlearn and new perspectives to gain, as we all strive to better understand our individual and collective roles in both fighting white supremacy and supporting our Black, Latinx, APIA, and indigenous students, union members, and communities. This includes examining and understanding the historic and current roles of policing both in schools and in our communities of color.
Our advocacy — over the summer, and as we plan for potential fall reopening and beyond, must continue to be centered in racial, social and economic justice. It is not only when brutal violence claims national media headlines that we must do this work, but it is work that must be done everyday, in our small interactions, in our daily conversations, and in the actions we take to be an ally — not a bystander or a perpetrator. Our goal as a union is to develop a shared, deeper racial analysis that will empower each of us to take action, do our part, and lead in the fight against all forms of injustice.
Over the next week, we will also be working with Superintendent Cassellius and BPS offices of Equity and Opportunity Gaps to bring together educators throughout the district to listen and to share ways that we can continue to support our Black students, educators and community. We will continue to work with the Superintendent and with the City to create a more equitable school system that truly reflects and celebrates the diversity that makes us strong and schools that we can all be proud of.
Lastly, during this time, while we are also healing from pandemic induced trauma, we remind everyone to seek mental and emotional health support and self-care, both through medical providers and/or through our networks and community. We will continue to share resources and support opportunities on our website: http://www.btu.org. The COVID-19 crisis has already exacerbated and exposed racial inequities, adding another layer of trauma that too many in our community have already long been experiencing. Now more than ever, we need to continue to practice radical self-care and look out for one another. And to truly look out for one another, we must be brave enough to look inward, first.
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About the Boston Teachers Union
The Boston Teachers Union proudly represents more than 10,000 teachers and other professionals including school nurses, psychologists, guidance counselors, paraprofessionals, and substitute teachers. Together, we advocate for the interests of students, parents and education professionals throughout the Boston Public Schools. We support investment in public education to ensure a stronger future for our students and our city. As a union of educators, we are part of a movement that seeks to improve the quality of life for all working people. We are united against all forms of prejudice and bigotry that would seek to devalue the lives or liberties of our students, families or colleagues.