FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: These past few weeks have been traumatizing, exhausting, and draining physically, mentally, and emotionally for many of us. We witnessed the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, along with the false accusation against Christian Cooper. Many of us have channeled our outrage to a public outcry for justice by peacefully protesting across the country. Yet, these incidents served as constant reminders of how Black people are disregarded, devalued, and destroyed by racist policies rooted in all institutionalized systems in this country.
Since our inception, TECA has been unapologetically committed to racial equality in education and ensuring educators of color are supported to remain in the profession. We also position them to be decision-makers to influence, create, and shift policies leading to educational equity. Now, more than ever, Black students need to see themselves reflected in school environments across this country, especially here in Tennessee. But it’s not enough to recruit more educators of color into spaces, which in many cases, are not ready to support them. It's more important for organizations and individuals to do the internal work to create culturally affirming environments, be civically engaged, and lead through a social justice lens.
Education is one avenue through which systemic racism can be addressed and justice achieved. We all have a collective responsibility and should be held accountable for ensuring that we are modeling what a just state and country should look like. Unfortunately, we know that systemic and structural racism exists in the education system and in schools. When we are not vigilant and don’t address these issues, we are complicit in the hurt, harm, and, in many cases, death that Black students will encounter because of racism outside the four walls of the classroom.
It is essential that we acknowledge that Black students’ lived experiences, both inside and outside of school, are different from white students and non-black students of color. We cannot adequately prepare them to be “global citizens” if we’re not addressing the challenges, seeded in racism, that they are likely to face in their communities. And to be clear, they are not anything new that Black people have not been experiencing for years. Now is not the time to be silent! We encourage all of our members, supporters, allies, and peer organizations to commit to becoming anti-racist and advocating for educational justice that values and centers the experiences of black students.
We know this work is hard. We know you are tired. But for everyone in our network, especially Black people in this moment, we see you, we hear you, and we will continue to fight for you and with you.
Yours in solidarity,
Tennessee Educators of Color Alliance