The Institute for Educational Leadership would like to take a moment to reflect on and mourn the events of last week.
We mourn Alton Sterling of Baton Rouge, La. and Philando Castile of Falcon Heights, Minn., whose lives were tragically and abruptly cut short during encounters with police officers. Deaths such as these are all too commonplace in the communities we serve daily.
We mourn the pre-meditated murder of five law enforcement officers: Michael Smith, Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Patrick Zamarripa, and Brent Thompson in Dallas. The Dallas Police Department has garnered national attention for its work in attempting to mitigate bias in policing, in addition to the respectful and communicative stance it has taken to #BlackLivesMatter protests in recent years. The deaths of five police officers working to facilitate citizens’ first amendment rights is deeply troubling.
These tragedies come in the midst of deep racial divides that have been present in our country for generations and on the heels of the deaths of other African Americans at the hands of the police or in police custody. While these events are not a new phenomenon, it seems that social media has brought these incidents to light in new and excruciatingly distressing ways.
IEL works in communities affected by tragedies such as these and recognizes the inherent trauma that comes with police-community relations in neighborhoods where marginalized citizens live, work, and love each day. We send our deepest condolences to the families, friends, and loved ones of those who have been taken from us, and we pray that healing can begin in the communities damaged most deeply by these tragedies.
We do not want to stop with heartfelt messages, however. We will continue to insist that the fight for equity and against institutionalized bias in all its forms are integrated into our work, especially in our work with youth. IEL is dedicated to addressing our country’s most destructive problems and giving youth a space to communicate and heal. In our policy work, we will ensure that issues of race and equity are on the table. In communities where we are present, we will encourage and support dialogue on what divides us and joint action to solve problems and achieve better results for our most vulnerable young people.
We know there is a long struggle ahead and that we must work closely with our partners and peers if we are to see progress in the coming months and years. In this process, IEL will continue to emphasize the need for people and organizations to come together across the boundaries of race, class, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity, as well as across the boundaries that separate institutions, organizations, and disciplines. Only by coming together will we begin to find solutions.
Please tell us what you are thinking and how your schools, organizations, or communities are responding through Twitter: @IELConnects #BetterTogether.
Thank you for your continued work.
-The Institute for Educational Leadership
Download a short list of resources for discussions with youth about racial disparity, violence, and police interactions.