Dear Robbinsdale Area Schools Families and Staff,
Today, I am writing to you with a heavy heart. In my thirty years as an educator, recent local events have been among the most challenging situations I have experienced. My emotions have been up and down after continuing to see the images of the life of a neighboring community member being taken unjustly in a public place. I don’t want to have the same conversations about safety with my African American grandson that my mother had with me. We have to demand a just and equitable society for our children and the generations who follow!
We stand with our community in collective grief over Mr. George Floyd and other African Americans who have senselessly died in incidents resembling modern day lynchings. We reject the notion any human being should suffer such horrific treatment. In the midst of a global pandemic, and during a highly stressful time, the trauma over these acts impact us all. Our hearts, minds and souls are struggling to understand these tragedies and injustices.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” As evident in Dr. King’s words, these terrible acts of violence contribute to the collective anxiety, pain and trauma our society faces daily. In these times, we are unable to watch news broadcasts (or our social media feeds) without seeing depictions of brutality. Often, divisive comments provide various explanations or justifications; however, what is lost in these polarizing discussions is the need to advocate for human decency, kindness and compassion.
As a community and nation, we must no longer differentiate between who is worthy of our constitutional aims of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" based on identity or characteristics such as race, culture, religion, etc. We can no longer afford to stay silent. It is time to collaboratively reach deep into our souls as human beings to confront our history and walk forward on new paths to meet unprecedented challenges. As we look toward a better tomorrow, we all must find the inner courage to advocate for human decency in our world.
We see you. We hear you. We stand with you. Together, we are 281.
Carlton D. Jenkins, Ph.D.
Robbinsdale Area Schools