At our core, The Broad Center is an organization committed to excellence and equity in public education, with a focus on transformative leadership that creates and sustains school systems where all students are prepared for college and careers. But unless Black lives matter, none of that matters.
We mourn with those who are grieving over the deaths of sons and daughters and brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers and loved ones and people who we didn’t know because they were murdered before we could meet.
We support protesters who are expressing anger and frustration after centuries of passive and aggressive ignorance and inaction.
We admire education leaders within and beyond our network who have been working steadfastly for years to protect young Black lives by dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline, providing the instructional – and emotional, physical and social – supports needed to succeed, eliminating bias in their systems and increasing diversity and representation among their teachers and leaders.
For too long too many of us working to improve public education have led with tunnel vision euphemistically mislabeled as laser-like focus around our path to educational equity and missed the fact that we won’t get to educational equity without a fight for equity – period. We absolutely have to address what is broken in our school systems and fix the problems from within. But often what is broken and why it’s broken stems from an enduring legacy of structural and systemic racism in our country, which impacts the communities we serve through inequitable housing policies, criminal justice systems, healthcare, and more. We have to acknowledge both – it’s an inside job and it requires addressing structural, societal problems.
And it’s not just that school systems operate within a broader ecosystem and are impacted by societal forces and conditions; it’s that what we do in public education impacts that ecosystem and the people living in it as well. In a field obsessed with “achievement gaps” and “opportunity gaps” we need to honestly acknowledge that in many cases the real “gap” is in our own knowledge of history and the complicity of well-intentioned educational leaders in perpetuating inequity in our society and in our school systems. We have to recognize that we work for and lead systems that have not and do not served marginalized students, especially Black and Latinx students. We have perpetuated policies that have upheld oppression instead of dismantling it. As educators we are part of the same interconnected system that is taking Black lives. We are 100% part of the problem until we are not.
At The Broad Center, we have not always gotten this right – we can’t separate ourselves as an organization or as individuals from those systems described above. But we’re working on ourselves through dedicated time, talent and resources focused on developing as an antiracist organization and with deep humility know we must do more.
For those of you wondering what else we all can personally do, we offer some ideas:
- Do the work to educate yourselves on our history, understanding our identities and the intersections of race, power, and privilege.
- Use whatever power and privilege you have to take actions in rooms and contexts that remain exclusive to change mindsets and policy.
- Examine your own organizational practices to identify and address institutional racism and disrupt anti-blackness when it shows up in your individual lives.
- Get informed about which local, state, and national candidates have policy platforms that explicitly address issues of structural racial inequity.
- Contribute to critical organizations working for racial justice.
- Support Black owned businesses.
Current events have reaffirmed the persistent power of deep personal and institutional racism in our country – not even a pandemic can contain it. But we remain hopeful knowing that the power of people coming together with a real commitment to justice cannot be contained either.
Becca Bracy Knight
Fernando Ayala Vaca
Ryan Duron Tran