You’re Either With Our Young People of Color or Against Them

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Our community is reeling after the murder of George Floyd.

For me, a Black person in Minneapolis, the brutality on display hits my heart and my home particularly hard. Last week, I woke up to a text message from my mother begging me to be safe and stay away from the police. Calls from friends and family across the globe offer tearful condolences. I’m forced to remember the numerous unarmed Black Americans who have lost their lives to law enforcement and race-based violence, often with no accountability. 

No doubt, four Minneapolis police officers killed George. And his murder puts a significant strain on our mental health, worry in the hearts of our loved ones, and confusion and fear in our city and the larger community.

In the days that followed, I woke up to a community physically hurting—a manifestation of pain that has been simmering from the deep inequities in our community for too long. This is impacting all of us, but I think particularly adding to the trauma facing young people of color. For some, this is another event in a disturbing, predictable pattern. For those even younger, this might be the first window into a reality that’s hard to come to terms with. 

It’s more important than ever that we acknowledge not just how this impacts students, but how it trickles down into the culture of schools themselves. Do children of color feel celebrated? Are their minds and their lives valued? Or do they continue to internalize and react to the mistreatment from our systems and leaders? It is one of the many things we must interrogate and work to ensure our kids are cared for, now and beyond. 

Now is the time for allies of young people to show up—to avoid the urge to look away from the pain, and ask what we can do next. Community leaders, elected officials, and everyday Minnesotans will need to come together with youth to ask how we got here and how we make fundamental change—not only to bring an end to state-sponsored violence, but also the inequities creating untenable rifts in our community. 

I ask you to be a part of the healing. To reinforce the fundamental value that our lives and the lives of our neighbors matter.

This post originally ran on the EdAllies Blog as “Reeling After the Murder of George Floyd” here.

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