Madison Teachers Inc stands together with WEAC and NEA against racism in all its forms and practices. We condemn the murder of George Floyd and the countless others who have been victims of violence perpetuated by a culture of white supremacy. A culture that NEA President Lily Eskelsen Garcia states is the “primary root cause of institutional racism, structural racism, and white privilege. It is a privilege that manifests as white people weaponizing the police against [B]lack [people] going about their daily lives.”
Throughout this pandemic, across the state of Wisconsin and in our own city of Madison, we have seen Black and Brown people treated differently than white people. This has been an intentional and structured problem since the founding of our community. The pandemic merely illuminates what so many of our Black citizens have been telling us for centuries and decades. Before George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, there was Tony Robinson. And before Tony Robinson, there were countless Black citizens who have been subjected to different rules and interpretations by Madison’s and Wisconsin’s white supremicist culture.
According to Eskelsen Garcia, “The overarching sentiment about these cases for so many people—including many of our students and their families—is that the lives and the dignity of [B]lack people in the United States do not carry the same value or importance as others.”
President Ron Duff Martin states, “The Wisconsin Education Association Council acknowledges the deep divides that exist in our state and nation. In Wisconsin, our union is increasing our support to be sure educators in public schools have what they need to drive efforts to recognize and end racism in all forms and in all institutions. From bridging the shameful achievement gaps that exist in Wisconsin schools, to fostering economic justice in our poorest communities, to recreating government and police institutions that respect people of color – this is our time as educators to advance this critical priority. WEAC members across Wisconsin are already bonding together to make a difference.”
We echo President Eskelsen García, “And so, we say: Black Lives Matter… because All Lives have not mattered. Racism takes [B]lack and [B]rown lives. Explicit racism foments hate and aggression. But implicit bias grows unreasonable fear and suspicion, moving people to act unreasonably on their fear and suspicion. We must do better.”
MTI commits to the ongoing urgent work of becoming an anti-racist organization and supporting educators in our collective work to grow as anti-racist educators in order to create anti-racist classrooms and systems. Our members hold positions in a system that mirrors the culture it exists in. One that is systematically biased and inequitable in ways that perpetuate existing barriers for our students of color. As a collective group we must, and we will, engage in efforts to challenge existing systems, change existing practices, examine our current policies, including our current School Resource Officers policy, and fight for the students and communities we serve.