Center for Educational Improvement (CEI) Statement on Racial Equity and Justice
by Christine Mason, CEI Executive Director; Dana Asby, CEI Director of Innovation and Research Support; and Ingrid Padgett, CEI Director of Development and Communications
“…Prepare yourself so you can be a rainbow in somebody else’s cloud. Somebody who may not look like you. May not call God the same name you call God—if they call God at all.” ~Dr. Maya Angelou
Our hearts ache. In this moment, we are mostly sad, most of the time. We know that change is painful. We are going through pain, yet that pain will help us get to the other side. On that other side of pain, we must lead with courage.
Racism begins at home, where it is taught and learned. We need trauma-informed practices to transform not only schools, but also homes and hearts. While we may not all be able to raise our voices against injustice by standing in the street, each of us has a role to play in changing hearts, words, choices, and actions that perpetuate injustice each day.
Examining our beliefs and values and how our choices, words, and actions align with them is a first step to taking personal responsibility for our part in upholding or bringing down systemic oppression. After this painful and difficult work, it is time for action towards justice, which we see brave souls taking each day in their efforts to peacefully protest the violence that has cost the lives of too many Black Americans.
May this be the beginning of a deeper, more relevant, more abiding justice. May justice mean an end to injustice, racism, discrimination, prejudice, and inequity. May we take responsibility for helping others heal from the long-term wounds of injustice. May we realize that we are one people and love each other with a commitment to sharing and caring, with a commitment to stand beside our brothers and sisters.
No matter what race, culture, religion, ethnic group, or sexuality, may we be with each other in solidarity. Black lives matter. Police brutality must end.
We stand with others calling for education for police, for individuals, and for communities. Courageous Conversations are needed as people begin transformative dialogues with a commitment to equity. Listening conversations must guide us as we move beyond our histories, our divisions, and our separations to deep levels of love, compassion and healing.
True equity goes beyond words or theories to action. For lasting, transformative change, balance must be achieved and sacrifice will be required of some. System changes will be required to more equitably disperse resources, save lives, and demonstrate that we care about each and every human being—each toddler, each child, each teen, and each adult, without exception. During this time of COVID-19, we have an opportunity in the midst of crisis to reclaim our humanity, to strengthen our planet, and to build resiliency and sustainability through our words and our actions. This will take time, leadership, and a collective will, a collective regard for others.
We feel emboldened and hopeful as so many people turn toward the arc of justice. Brothers and sisters of all races, creeds, religions, and colors are outraged by police brutality against Black men and are no longer able to be silent about it. Together, we will demand change and we will not stop fighting until we achieve it.
We leave you with words from a song lyric that Dr. Maya Angelou would sing to students attending the Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., “Still, when it looked like the sun wasn’t going to shine anymore, God put a rainbow in the clouds.”
View resources we suggest as you work toward positive change and reforms that ensure racial equity and justice. A Conversation with my Black Son A Conversation about Growing up Black Educating our Children: Talking to Kids about Racism & Police Brutality How to Talk to your Children about Protests and Racism How to Talk to your Kids about Race, Racism and Police Violence Racism and Violence: How to Help Kids Handle the News Resources for Discussing Police Violence, Race, and Racism With Students Resources for Educators and Parents: Teaching about Race, Racism, and Police Violence Resources for Talking about Race, Racism and Racialized Violence with Kids Teaching Tolerance: Teaching about Race, Racism, and Police Violence