Statement from DFER President Shavar Jeffries On Recent Violence
Following the tragic events in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Falcon Heights, Minnesota; and Dallas, Texas last week, DFER President Shavar Jeffries released the following statement:
“DFER works throughout the country to support public education policies that prepare America’s young people for the global economy. Given the persistent achievement gaps and longstanding inequities that many of our students face along class and racial lines, we have a particular interest in ensuring that children of color and children from low-income backgrounds have access to the high-quality public education they deserve. We work in communities from New York to Chicago to Baton Rouge, where we have seen too many Black people — young and old, male and female — gunned down after what should have been routine interactions with police. Our work on behalf of kids in the communities we serve does not occur in a vacuum, but is inextricably linked to the social and cultural environments that our children and families inhabit. Just as the ability of our children to reach their full potential is compromised if they live in neighborhoods contaminated by poverty, drink from water sources laced with lead, or move from shelter to shelter because of homelessness, so too is their promise undermined when they perceive that their skin color so disinvests them of human dignity that they are subject to arbitrary, excessive and often lethal force at the hands of their own government.
“In this context, we stand with Americans of all backgrounds to demand justice for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. We also stand with Americans of all backgrounds in demanding justice for the dedicated police officers who were viciously murdered and put their lives on the line in service of their community. Our thoughts and prayers are with these victims and their loved ones, as well as their communities as we all try to heal the wounds caused by this week’s violence.
“As progressives seeking high-quality education for all, we learned early in school that multiple things can be true at the same time: that people of color deserve not to be subject to lethal force when they pose no threat to the police or others, and good police officers work hard every day and sacrifice their lives in service of our general safety and peace. We both affirm the value of Black life and also honor the value of good policing and the sacrifices the majority of police officers make every day.
“Racism is our country’s original sin, and it continues to haunt us. Yet sinfulness can be redemptive once one candidly acknowledges prior conduct, admits its consequences, seeks to remedy them, and uncompromisingly commits to learning from prior action and fostering understanding and fellowship with those who may have been wronged previously. We have so much more that binds than divides us. The future of our children, and our country, will turn on whether we will embrace our common humanity and treat one another justly and fairly on that basis, or fall into our own tribal corners and continue to foster an environment of racial misunderstanding and hostility that not only undermines the educational possibilities of our children, but the democratic viability of our country. At DFER, we are prepared and engaged in pursuing the former, and stand ready to join all partners of all stripes in this work.”