A Message to Our Community on the Derek Chauvin Verdict
Like many across the nation, we waited anxiously on Tuesday as the verdict was announced in the case against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. In a momentous ruling, the jury found him guilty on all three charges. While the case stands as an important symbol of justice – for Mr. Floyd, his family, and others who’ve lost their lives at the hands of police brutality and acts of racist violence against the Black community – and of accountability for those in positions of power, there are no winners here. Tuesday’s ruling is not a panacea nor a cause for celebration – in fact, in the hours and days since the conviction, there have been two more fatal shootings of Black people, including a teenager: Ma’Khia Bryant and Andrew Brown, Jr. Clearly, there is a long way to go on the road to justice and accountability, and our hearts remain heavy with sadness for lives lost and the hard work yet to be done.
SMART Reading is deeply committed to racial equity and becoming an anti-racist organization. In our work, reminders of the inequities and biases inherent in public education and our broader systems and institutions are all around us. Those inequities are clearly evident in the growing education gap that exists in Oregon, and the reality that 74 percent of our state’s Black third-graders are not proficient in reading compared to 53 percent of third-graders overall. This disparity, among others, underscores the reality that all children do not have the same opportunities for success. That’s why we’re actively working to dismantle racism and create more equitable outcomes for our students and families, our volunteers, and our staff.
We recognize that many families are likely having conversations about race and racism with their children given this week’s events. To that end, we’d like to share some resources for discussing this with kids:
- Learning for Justice: Responding to the Chauvin Verdict
- Portland-based publisher, A Kids Book About, offers a wide range of books on complex topics to discuss with kids, including racism, white privilege, and systemic racism
- USA Today: How Parents Can Talk to Their Children about the Derek Chauvin Verdict
We at SMART Reading stand with commitment to action and healing as our communities grapple with the painful wounds of our past and present. Thank you for walking alongside us in this critical work.