The Executive Council of Peralta Federation of Teachers, the union representing teachers, librarians, and counselors at the four Peralta Community Colleges, categorically condemns the state-sanctioned murder of George Floyd earlier this week in Minneapolis, MN. We stand in solidarity with those protesting in Minneapolis, Oakland, and across the country demanding justice from police and other institutions that, historically and to this day, consistently devalue and dehumanize black, brown, and poor lives while protecting the interests and property of the wealthy. We also stand in proud solidarity with our union siblings at Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 1005, who refused to allow the police to use their buses to transport protestors to jail. Here we see clearly the power in the unity of working people.
Violence against black and brown bodies, as well as the poor and working classes, is a defining characteristic of this nation, whose actions have always been at odds with its empty proclamations of “freedom” and “equality.” As community college educators, our duty is to ensure that our students are socially and intellectually prepared to further their education and enter the workforce. This responsibility is complicated by a social system and institutions that empower police to harass, abuse, murder, and lynch our students with few consequences, and no signals that the cycle of one-sided violence will end. Meanwhile, police in the Bay Area and in cities all over the country make desperate calls to “honor” the memory of murdered men, women, and children of color by staying home, a call that reeks of such hypocrisy that it only makes the arguments for their abolition stronger.
The killing of George Floyd has piqued our anger and frustration once again, as did the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Oscar Grant, Sean Reed, Nina Pop, Botham Jean, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, as will all of the names that we will have to learn and say aloud in the future, unless these often unpunished acts of violence come to an end. In these names and countless others we see our families, our loved ones, our students, and even one another as we grapple with the pain and helplessness that comes with the predictable tragedy of violence. Violence that is sanctioned and condoned by a country that maintains its system of institutional racism and violence against African Americans and other marginalized communities.
We grieve another loss today, as we did yesterday, and as we will tomorrow. We watch, we write, we teach, and we march with the protestors. As educators in the East Bay Area, we also keep foremost on our minds and in our raised voices the words of Frederick Douglass in 1857 that are just as true today, that our struggle “may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
The members of the Peralta Federation of Teachers are educators. We collect and share knowledge; we nurture, and we advise. We are one with our students, we are one with our community, and we will never sit down when they stand up.
Please consider donating to the important community organizations below, for Minneapolis, and for Oakland: