We grieve and rage at the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and Tony McDade, among the countless lives lost to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism. We call for healing and justice for their families, and for the Black communities here in NYC that are hurting, angry, tired, ready for change; and for white colleagues, neighbors, family members, and peers to step up their listening and action.
As we mourn the pain and destruction done to these communities, we will continue to work toward a new way, one that lifts up Black lives. We know that to lift up Black folx is to lift us all. We stand with a nation longing for and demanding a humanity that can acknowledge the violent past and present, and take action to change it.
Community-Word Project believes in the power of language, with full knowledge that language too often has been used to manipulate and oppress.
Today, we use our voice to make clear where we stand, who we stand for, and the direct and actionable steps we believe need to be taken to protect our communities, and the students we serve. As we reflect on our practices and participation in systemic racism, we call on our community of fellow educators, administrators, government officials, supporters, neighbors, and partners to join us in committing to ongoing training on bias and power.
Educators, we ask you to join us in a commitment to:
Rigorously revisiting and revising curricula, training, and standards on an ongoing basis.
Evaluate and address how well curriculum and training lift up Black voices and Black experiences, including Black trans communities and black folx with disabilities. Examine and disrupt the role whiteness and white supremacy is playing in pedagogy.
Being reflective about how bias may be unintentionally playing out in our learning spaces, for example behavior management, expectations, assumptions about home life, celebrating successes.
Community-Based Organizations, we ask you to join us in a commitment to:
Amplifying the voices of Black artists, educators, researchers, and community leaders.
Critically examining human resource practices – including wage and hiring policies – which often focus more on protecting leadership than the entry- and mid-level staff compensation, which exacerbates the wealth gap.
Supporters, we ask you to join us in a commitment to:
Recognizing how generational wealth disproportionately benefits white individuals, while redlining, gentrification, and mass incarceration have stripped generations of Black communities of the opportunity to accumulate wealth, and to be safe and healthy.
Government officials, we ask you to commit to:
Stand in solidarity to amplify the message of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
Allocate more funding for equitable access to education and less for policing our Black and Brown communities.
Acknowledge and take action on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the outer boroughs of Queens, Bronx, and Brooklyn.
Demilitarize and defund our police departments. Build platforms for the people to have a leading voice in creating safety for our communities.
Everyone, we ask you to:
Invest in your own education by taking part in anti-racist trainings and unpacking your implicit bias
Support and join non-violent protests advocating for the sanctity of Black lives in any way you are able.
We ask these actions of ourselves and our community. We want our students to know their voices are powerful, and their voices can change the world. We will hold ourselves accountable through ongoing self-reflection and action. We ask our community to do the same.
We do this work today because we believe in a better world for our students. Because we believe that #BlackLivesMatter. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow.
We lift up student voices to make sure they are heard. We offer this poem written by one of our high schoolers at The Young Women’s Leadership School in Queens. Please read and reflect.
“It ends with us”
I’m not saying all lives don’t matter
I’m just saying my life matters
they don’t see danger when they see you
they do when they look at my brother
It never ended with my ancestors
but it will end with us
It never stopped with Rosa on the bus
but it will with us
An innocent man shot down, yet you expect us to
smile and be happy like clowns
How many more tears should we shed
when another black man is shot dead
How many mothers will cry
cause her son had to die?
Your son died, but why?
Is it because his nose isn’t straight
or the thick curls in his hair?
Is it the color of his skin
or that his lips aren’t that thin?
Do we only have to look like you
to actually fit in?
Do I have to look like you so I can live?
Why do you kill us for being bold and loving the way we were built?
I’m not saying All Lives Don’t Matter, I’m just saying
Black People Are Killed!
Killed because of the way we were built
Trayvon, Philandro, Michael, Eric, and now George
How many more hashtags do you need
to feel our pain?
We cry today, then you spew hate like rain
No peace, no justice until you stop this
Stop killing us because you wish we didn’t exist
It didn’t end at Selma, but it will with us!
Now let’s get to work.
The Community-Word Project Staff