Dear Folks,

What do we say to our children of every race about the death of George Floyd and the conviction of Derek Chauvin?  I am helped by the words of Michael Molina, Head of The Bishop Walker School for Boys in Washington DC.  The school was founded in 2006 “to alter the educational and social trajectory of children from traditionally underserved communities and prepare them for service in their communities and well beyond,” and Molina began his tenure there last summer. You’ll be interested to know that Molina moved there from Baltimore, where for 14 years he was a Gilman teacher, coach, and administrator, not to mention a spoken word poet!

Today, we parents and educators may feel a weight lifted, and a rush of relief. With the conviction of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, we know that justice can happen here and now. Yet, that relief must be tempered by the reality of what it took to get justice in this one case – a graphic and horrific video of police violence out in the open, sustained protests across the country & world, and officers breaking ranks to testify against one of their own. We have to ask if justice could have come without this massive alignment of forces. 

The verdict, while a reason for hope, does not erase the fact that we who are educators and parents will always be faced with the enormous challenge of how to explain the horrors of the world to our students and our own children. We must lead and guide our young people, even as we love and comfort them to explain the challenging world around us… 

We must help our young people feel empowered. We can do that by sharing the good news.  A 17-year-old girl, Darnella Frazier, had the awareness and courage to record the video that made the possibility of justice for George Floyd. That video sparked a multi-racial, multi-generational mass movement out into the streets the likes of which have not been seen since the civil rights movement of the 1950’s and 60’s…

We must also prepare our young people for the world they are growing into. To do that, we must also face hard truths. In the midst of the Derek Chauvin trial and verdict, there have been several police related shootings resulting in deaths, two of which involved children under the age of 18. There has also been a disturbing increase in young people perpetrating violence that has resulted in death and fear…

As we face the good and the difficult in the world, I pray that we keep some consistent messages resonating throughout our households, classrooms, and communities…

We will do everything we can to keep you safe because we love you and believe in you.  Here, with us, you will be seen, known, and appreciated for who you are.  No outside force of negativity can ever touch the good that God made in you.  The Justice System has always been imperfect in America, but it gives us the opportunity to speak up for ourselves. We will always speak up for ourselves and demand our right to do so.

Thank you, Michael Molina, for your compassionate, courageous leadership.  May we embody your wisdom in our own lives.

Love,
David