The Truthful Voices of CJSF
“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single issue lives.”
The last few weeks have been filled with convenings that emphasized equity and solidarity across the siloes and geographies that too often divide us - at the launch of #GoodKidsMadCity, during the April 20th Student Walkouts, throughout PolicyLink’s Equity Summit, with the Executives’ Alliance for Boys and Men of Color’s spring meeting, and at CJSF’s own quarterly member meeting in Miami – which included a Black Girls Matter MIA Coalition theatre of the oppressed-style performance and talkback and a live streamed webinar, “Reproductive Justice is Restorative Justice: Expanding the School Discipline Frame - Organizing at the Intersections of Race, Gender, and Sexuality.” Huge thanks to our Florida partners - Dream Defenders, Power U, and SOUL Sisters Leadership Collective - and to our gracious friends and hosts from the Community Justice Project for the time and love they invested in welcoming CJSF staff and members to their community. In our time with them, they modelled what the past few weeks included so much of - spaces of solidarity and healing through relationship-building.
At a moment when we are being barraged by efforts to harden schools that are already not sanctuaries for too many students of color, we must work in solidarity now more than ever – as exemplified by the efforts we have supported through CJSF’s recently launched Transforming School Safety – a rapid response fund.
CJSF and our partners know we need more intentional whole school and district commitments to the positive school climate approaches all students deserve - approaches that value and acknowledge children’s inherent cultural dignity and their unique gifts. The imperative that we reject exclusionary discipline policies and law enforcement referrals from schools that unfairly target youth of color was cast into sharp relief with the release of several reports and data sets this month. Each underscored what we know – discipline disparities persist. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released Discipline Disparities for Black Students, Boys, and Students with Disabilities and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released the much anticipated 2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection.
The convenings and resources I note here were much needed counters to the messages of those who believe our schools should be equipped as battlefields, that our teachers must be armed, and that the very same children we seek to nurture and educate are the enemy. These are tumultuous times, but that is nothing new. The truthful voices of CJSF’s partners and members are carrying us through and we are proud to stand with them. Read more about our collective efforts below and please share this newsletter with a friend or two.