Message from our President, Tina Williams
on the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery
June 4, 2020
Dear FCFT Sisters and Brothers,
In these past days, like many, I have experienced an ocean of emotions that seem to change by the hour. I have felt anger, disgust, shock, heartbreak, rage, despair, numbness, devastation, confusion, and exhaustion. We have seen and heard far too many stories of black lives stolen with no path to justice for these Americans and their families for far too long. As a black woman, the mother of two black children and aunt of several dozens of black nieces and nephews, the realization that any of us could be next is constantly present. This is reality for me and many other Black Americans in our country.
Despite these emotions over the last few days, I am also encouraged by the millions of black, brown, white and every shade of people in between showing up. Young and old across our country are standing together in solidarity to demand justice for lives senselessly cut down and an end to systemic oppression.
Fairfax County Federation of Teachers condemns the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery. We demand justice for them and all black people who have been killed by police violence and racist vigilantism.
These acts are part of a wider system of oppression and institutionalized racism: what our country was founded on. These systems touch everything in our lives. They have and continue to manifest in our Fairfax County community and our public schools. Fairfax County Federation of Teachers is a union of thousands of Fairfax County educators. For nearly 50 years, we have stood for the empowerment of Fairfax County educators and the best interests of our students. The labor movement gains its strength from our common belief that all people are inherently valuable and have a right to a just and dignified life. As educators, we are charged with instilling our students with respect for the rules of good order. Property damage can never compare to a human being’s life. There are no “both sides” on this issue.
As union members and educators, we all have a stake in this. We see the ripple effects of systemic racism every day. We know that our black and brown students are all too often channeled into the disciplinary pipeline. We know that our country has a massive issue with hiring and retaining educators of color, and that black applicants are far less likely than white applicants to receive teaching positions even while having better qualifications. We know that before they ever enter a Fairfax County public school, our students are all too often struggling with the compounded traumas of poverty, racism, and violence that result from overt and covert white supremacy. We know that when they enter school, they sometimes must do so knowing the name on that wall is the name of a supporter of slavery. And we know that our teachers of color, parents themselves, are forced to have some of the hardest conversations a parent ever must have with their children.
Fairfax County Federation of Teachers stands committed to acting on these issues, developing concrete solutions, and achieving long lasting change. Our union has task forces that are working on these very issues and we invite all members to participate to help us develop and achieve these solutions together.
We are here for all members and encourage all members to let us know how we can support them through this unprecedented time. In the labor movement, we say, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” We cannot have justice for any of us without justice for all of us. That day will not come without hard, hard work, but we stand united and committed to dismantling systems of oppression to achieve a just school system, community, and country.
We encourage all members to help students understand activism and the power of protest with the lesson plans and resources curated by American Federation of Teachers Share My Lesson Plan at https://sharemylesson.com/node/277426.