Dear KIPP Texas Families,
Not only did our students have to adapt to a “new normal” as a result of the pandemic, they have been exposed to news of repeated acts of violence against Black men and boys by police officers and racist vigilantes. Men and boys who look like their brothers. Their cousins. Their fathers. Their grandfathers.
Last week we were horrified to see the video of a Minnesota police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, choking the life out of him and ignoring his cries of distress. Our hearts and solidarity are with the family of George Floyd and all families who have been affected by inhumane death and police brutality.
There is systemic racism in this country. Floyd’s murder is one example in a long list of injustices Black men face in this country.
For Big KIPPster Sharon Simpson, Floyd’s death was personal. Floyd and Simpson’s nephew grew up together in Houston’s Third Ward, where many of our KIPPsters live. Ms. Simpson shares the burden of fear with millions of Black men and women across the country who feel their lives may be at risk when they encounter someone in law enforcement.
The use of excessive force by some law enforcement, specifically in matters involving Black people, has created an environment of distrust and anxiety between the officials and the communities they have sworn to protect and serve. The recent killings of Ahmaud Arbery in Glynn County, Georgia; Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky; and George Floyd in Minneapolis are etched in our minds as symbols of injustice and the painful reminder that Black lives don’t seem to matter. While social media has brought these injustices to light, we know that many more undocumented incidents are the reality for many African-Americans every day.
So, as our seniors begin to transition into adulthood, we can’t help but fear for our young Black men as many begin to leave home for the first time for college and careers. For them, we must do better.
KIPP Texas wants to make our schools and communities safe for everyone. We are committed to finding solutions that address systemic injustice and rebuilding communities centered on human connection and supportive relationships.
The late Senator Robert F. Kennedy said, “It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”
KIPP Texas Public Schools resoundingly condemns the unjust and inhumane treatment of Black men and boys.
This summer, we hope you join us in the fight for change. It’s never too early to talk to our families about diversity, inclusion, and justice to help build a better future. Talking about race may be difficult, but it is necessary. The National Museum of African American History & Culture has tools and guidance to inspire conversation. The Obama Foundation also has resources to help you learn what you can do to create a more just and equitable world.
We are unwavering in our commitment to ensure every classroom will be a place of acceptance and of multiracial celebration.
At KIPP, we are committed to recruiting a diverse staff that is committed to engaging and educating students in ways that are culturally and linguistically responsive and appropriate. Our classrooms will be safe spaces to talk about race and equity.
As Big KIPPsters, we continue to educate ourselves, reflect, and engage in conversation on how we can be better and make the world better. Many of us are taking action within our communities. We hope you join us in creating a more just world for our KIPPsters and all of us.