Our hearts are broken, and our spirits are outraged as our New Orleans community stands in solidarity with George Floyd, with his family, and with everyone who is in deep pain and anger over the perpetuation of racism and injustice in this country. Let us as a community say it again and again until it is internalized by all: Black Lives Matter.
You may have seen the video that went viral of Keedron Bryant, a 12-year-old singing a powerful song, “I Just Want to Live.” As a black woman and lifelong educator, I cannot accept any version of America where our children must live in fear and question whether their innate uniqueness and goodness and their hard-fought educations will be enough to one day save their lives from racism and injustice. We know our children are not born less than. We know our children are born brilliant and beautiful. We know our children shouldn’t have to plead for their lives.
We must not give up the struggle for real equality.
150 years after the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments to the U.S Constitution, 66 years after Brown v. Board of Education pledged to desegregate our schools, 60 years after Ruby Bridges walked into an all-white school here in New Orleans, 56 years since the Civil Rights Act tried to protect our right to vote, the fact remains that we as Black Americans are still fighting to not be seen as separate and unequal in the eyes of America.
We are still fighting for our humanity and dignity to be recognized.
I believe we as public education leaders, advocates and parents have an important role to play: we must force honest conversations about George Floyd, about Breonna Taylor, about Ahmaud Arbery, and about countless, countless others. We must have candid conversations about systemic and institutional racism in all its forms, and we must take bold action to address it internally and externally, preparing our children inside our classrooms and still, advocating for their lives and futures far beyond the classroom. And we must also have hard conversations with each other about the work that lies ahead in the coming weeks, months, years and decade—because we all want something much, much better for our children who will one day inherit the country we leave them.
We are reminded that in our schools it is of vital importance to be committed to educating and nurturing the whole child and to creating inclusive environments for all children. We must ensure that our curricula reflect our multicultural world and our children’s grandest hopes for their own lives. We as educators and advocates must continue to work to be the change we wish to see in our broader country.
Let us stand together working for progress towards lasting solutions and fighting for our children’s futures.
Kira Orange Jones
BESE, District 2