Lawmakers in at least 15 states are attempting to pass legislation that would require teachers to lie to students about the role of racism, sexism, heterosexism, and oppression throughout U.S. history.
In response, educators across the U.S. are signing a pledge to teach the truth. The pledge states:
"We the undersigned educators will not be bullied. We will continue our commitment to develop critical thinking that supports students to better understand problems in our society, and to develop collective solutions to those problems. We are for truth-telling and uplifting the power of organizing and solidarity that move us toward a more just society."
To raise public awareness about the danger of these bills, we invite educators to make that pledge public in gatherings nationwide on Saturday, June 12, 2021. This invitation is extended by the Zinn Education Project (coordinated by Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change) and Black Lives Matter at School.
Link to petition and for for more details
The Black Lives Matter at School Steering Committee stands in solidarity with the Asian community. We condemn anti-Asian violence and racism. Our hearts are with the families of the eight people, six of whom were Asian women, whom a white man brutally murdered in Atlanta, Georgia.
Over the past year there has been a surge of racist crimes targeting Asians. While these attacks have been directed at people of all genders, data from Stop AAPI Hate reveals women have reported twice as many hate incidents as men. Rather than denounce these attacks, Donald Trump further “legitimized” them by referring to the Coronavirus as “Kung flu” and “China virus.” Make no mistake, this weaponization of language is responsible for the increased anti-Asian violence happening around the country but is not the genesis. Members of the Asian community have been verbally harassed, discriminated against, physically assaulted, and murdered because of their race since the founding of this nation.
As Black educators we know students deserve to learn the truth that is too often hidden in schools and in our broader society about the long history of anti-Asian racism. From the exploitation of Chinese labor to build the railroads, to the “yellow peril” hysteria; From the Page Act of 1875 to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, to the ensuing white mobs that lynched Chinese people and destroyed their businesses and homes; From the U.S. war against the Philippines to the mass incarceration of people of Japanese and presumed Japanese descent during World War II; From the degrading “model minority” myth to the violent attacks against Asian people during the COVID era; We must learn and teach the truth about the ferocity of anti-Asian racism and its importance to maintaining white supremacy and power.
Additionally, students must be taught about the many struggles and contributions of Asian people in our country and the world. We must challenge the invisibility of Asian history in the curriculum, especially when it comes to the struggle for civil and human rights. The youth deserve to learn about people such as Yuri Kochiyama (a dear friend and collaborator of Malcom X), Grace Lee Boggs (who was involved in the March on Washington and was a close collaborator with C.L.R. James), and Ronald Takaki (a student activist and helped establish the academic discipline of Ethnic Studies).
There are important examples of Asian American and Black solidarity that must be taught--and then replicated in practice--if we are going to build the kind of collective struggle it will take to uproot structural racism in all its forms.
We are sending love and strength to everyone in the Asian community. Your struggle is our collective struggle. Our safety and liberation is bound in yours.
UNAPOLOGETICALLY BLACK DAY - FEBRUARY 18TH - BLACKLIVESMATTERATSCHOOL.COM
The Uprising for Black lives has prompted the Black Lives Matter at School movement to expand its proposed activities to a “Year of Purpose,” in addition to the annual Week of Action held during the first week of February. The centerpiece of the Year of Purpose is asking educators to reflect on their own work in relationship to antiracist pedagogy and abolitionist practice, persistently challenging themselves to center Black lives in their classrooms. In addition, educators will be asked to participate in intentional days of action throughout the school year uplifting different intersectional themes vital to making Black lives matter in schools, communities, and beyond (see the days of action at: https://www.blacklivesmatteratschool.com/year-of-purpose.html
Register at https://bit.ly/CUELyiscott
CRITICAL URBAN EDUCATION AT MONTCLAIR STATE:
Black Lives Matter in Schools
Speakers: Jamila Lyiscott and Young People from Newark
Hosted by the Dean’s Office of the College of Education and Human Services
Co-sponsored by: Center of Pedagogy; Department of Teaching and Learning; Montclair State University Network for Educational Renewal; Recruiting Teachers of Color Grant & The ADP Center for Learning Technologies
Inspired by Dr. J’s TED Talk, 2053, this session will move beyond what it means to fight against social inequities by embracing powerful vision and action around what we are fighting for. Framed by what she has conceptualized as Vision-Driven Justice, Dr. J will share key principles of this orientation in conversation with youth who have been working on their visions for social change.
Register for this interactive book launch
Reading, Writing and Racism is an unapologetic examination of how curriculum choices can perpetuate White supremacy, and offers radical strategies for how schools and teacher education programs can disrupt and transform racism in education. All are welcome to join Harvard’s Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at this interactive book launch that brings together a community of poets, teachers and teacher educators. This event will kick off with music an images from DJ Justis and poetry from Nelly Bess. Participants will hear from the author, Bree Picower, about how White teachers must reframe their understanding about race in order to advance racial justice. Participants will have the opportunity to discuss the ways that Whiteness was present in their own educational experiences and to freedom dream about how schools can create humanizing educational experiences for all. Finally, we will learn from a panel of racial justice teachers educators, Tanya Maloney, Farima Pour-Khorshid, Christina Villarreal, moderated by Tracie Jones, who will illuminate how racial justice can be built into programs across the teacher education pipeline--from admission to induction. By examining the who, what, why, and how of racial justice teacher education, this event provides radical possibilities for transforming how teachers think about, and teach about, race in their classrooms. The book can be pre-ordered at Reading Writing and Racism.
An Open Letter to President-Elect Biden and Vice President-Elect Harris:
(Add your signature TODAY!)
To begin, we hope that you will consider these words by the great Black educator, Septima Clark, as you think about what needs to change in our public education system: “I believe unconditionally in the ability of people to respond when they are told the truth. We need to be taught to study rather than believe, to inquire rather than to affirm.”
We, the Steering Committee of Black Lives Matter at School, are guided by Septima Clark through our work in education from preschool through college. We understand Clark’s legacy as a part of our work to ensure Black children, teachers and parents deserve schools as safe places to study and inquire.
You have the opportunity to create policies and appoint judges and officials who can ensure school is a space of emotional, intellectual and physical safety that encourages positive development of children who are often most marginalized.
This Call To Action is demanding that in the first 100 hundred days, your office will:
Our demands are foundational to a national commitment to justice for students who are impacted by not only what occurs in school but the social and political environment that impacts learning. We look forward to working with you to ensure this call to action is addressed within the first 100 days of your office: January 20, 2021 - April 30, 2021.
Black Lives Matter at School National Steering Committee
December 3 is International People’s with Disabilities Day. Harriet Tubman, Fannie Lou Hamer are two disabled freedom fighters we revere, even as the disabilities they carried with them into struggle aren’t consistently lifted up as assets in their fight. To fight against societal ableism, we must celebrate our differences and understand how the lessons from Black disabled organizers teach us how to build inclusive, accessible movements.
“The heartbeat of racism is denial.” A Statement from the National Black Lives Matter at School Steering Committee
“The heartbeat of racism is denial.” — Ibram X. Kendi
This is the time to no longer be silent or blind to systemic injustice that not only exists in our education systems but also where and how it manifests in our neighborhoods.
Melinda D. Anderson’s article from the NYTimes asks us: What can we learn from a Black child who would rather attend school online than return to a brick and mortar building where racial trauma assaults her ability to learn? How do we support a Black mother struggling to ensure her children receive the best education during a global pandemic, but hesitant to send them back to an institution that historically provides them with an inferior education?
Many of us can empathize with these stories because they resonate with our own experiences as learners in Black bodies navigating an inherently racist institution. As educators, we work to create environments that affirm Black humanity and center Black joy and mattering. As parents, we cloak our children in the Black love needed to sustain their developing identities and call upon the ancestors to guide them through a threatening and dangerous world. As co-conspirators, we listen to the lived experiences of others, learn from their struggles, follow their lead, and use our privilege to dismantle systems of oppression. We form a village to protect this child and support this mother.
The village is needed now more than ever. Instead of empathizing and offering support, others chose to deny, demean, and threaten this child and mother. They worry more about tarnishing the image of the school than addressing the racist environment of this child and many who look like her experience daily. They accuse the mother of exploiting her child instead of asking their own children how they treat Black children at school. Or examine the racialized structure of the school system and how it oppresses BIPOC students. And they suggest posting their address on social media so others can harass and harm them because they dared to speak their truths. These parents of children in this school district, make it clear through their vile and hateful responses, that this child is right to be wary of returning to this toxic environment. They insist there is no racism in their school district, but quickly turn to racist attacks to respond to an article about the racism they refuse to acknowledge. And the district insists that their “social justice” curriculum and commitment to a safe learning environment is more than enough to deny this child’s reality. This collective denial is another form of racism that reinforces the need for the village.
The Black Lives Matter at School National Steering Committee strives to be the village that protects all Black lives from oppressive and racist institutions of learning. We work to enact a space where Black youth are educated in guiding principles rooted in Black liberation. We demand practices that honor the brilliance of Black youth, Black educators, and Black history and culture. We put forth a vision for loving Blackness all year long. We refuse to allow white denial of anti-Black racism to interfere with our purpose and we refuse to stop until Black thriving in educational spaces is the norm. Period.