February 5-9 is Black Lives Matter week in Seattle Public Schools (SPS). We serve approximately 55,000 students that are diverse in every way. Our school system has struggled to end the unacceptable educational disparities between white and African American students. Educators, families, community members and students across Seattle are making a commitment to eliminate inequity and to ensure equal opportunities for greatness. The first week of February, educators across the United States are marking “Black Lives Matter in School” to take a stand for social justice.
The Black Lives Matter movement is a non-violent peace movement that systematically examines injustices that exist at the intersections of race, class, and gender; including mass incarceration, poverty, non-affordable housing, income disparity, homophobia, unfair immigration laws, gender inequality, and poor access to healthcare.
The question of “Why Black Lives Matter,” rather than “All Lives Matter” is important to consider. A number of analogies provide insight: a house on fire needs more water than a neighbor’s house that is not burning, or “everyone should eat” doesn’t provide consolation to the person who missed their dinner. On Twitter from ManOfTheHour@djsoap92, “#AllLivesMatter is like I go to the Dr for a broken arm and he says “All Bones Matter” ok but right now let’s take care of this broken one….” Former President Obama explained, “I think that the reason that the organizers used the phrase Black Lives Matter was not because they were suggesting that no one else’s lives matter…rather what they were suggesting was there is a specific problem that is happening in the African-American community that’s not happening in other communities.” The historical context of racism experienced by African Americans in the United States makes Black Lives Matter an important movement towards creating racial justice and equity for other impacted communities.
On Monday, February 5 volunteers will be in front of the school to start the day sharing tables with resources and sign making and stickers for people who want to participate but don’t have a t-shirt. You can find resources to discuss race and racism with children at many places including http://www.teachingforchange.org/teaching-about-race#.