5/29/2020 – This is not new to us.

We are not OK without Allyship and Action.

I have had a myriad of emotions over the last couple weeks. The high visibility of actions, that I know have been happening for several hundred years now, has still been jolting. We have all witnessed a murder playing on a seemingly endless media loop.

I have questioned my trust in humanity. I have felt agony at the senselessness of people’s hatred. I have had fears for my of my own safety. I have prayed that people who have romanticized acts of hatred will not become more emboldened to act out. I have been enraged at the public viewing of these deaths and the fact that it takes this visibility for baby steps towards justice to occur. True justice would be the absence of these deaths to begin with.

There have been several times, especially in the last weeks of work, that I have been too paralyzed to pretend that everything is OK enough to work. The pandemics of racism and COVID-19 are a gruesome duo. All of these emotions are valid and I know that I am not alone. Please know that you are not alone. Please be sure to take the time you need to reach out to loved ones, mental health supports, and to take action or unplug enough to recharge.

To my allies in action- thank you for reaching out and sharing your concerns.

Thank you for joining me in making the calls and joining the petitions.

Please continue to research organizations, both locally and abroad, who are mobilizing around voting out laws that allow these offense to happen unchecked. We can’t wait for it to happen to someone we know before taking action. This isn’t a black community issue-it’s everyone’s issue. Join us.

– Pamelagrace Okeke, SEL, Arvada K-8

The “New” Normal Is Not “New” to us.

Being a Black man in America has never been easy, understanding all the disparities that we have had to bear witness to and struggle to survive through, and not just now during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data proves that Black, Latino and other minorities are the hardest hit by COVID-19 in our country. Our people. Most of the front line workers keeping this country afloat during this crisis are women and people of color.

We collectively witnessed the murder of a Black man in Minnesota. George Floyd was unarmed and in handcuffs when he was killed by a white police officer. Three other officers stood by and refused to intervene.

George was pleading for his life while this officer had his knee on his neck and screamed out his last words “you are going to kill me”, “I can’t breathe” and the words “Mamma”.

For some of us this is nothing new…. It may be new to you because you are not a person of color. You may not carry the weight of the fear we carry every day.

America is in a state of emergency; some of us have known this for a very long time. Now it has gotten your attention.  Racial fatigue takes its toll. Some of us are very tired… what we chose to do now matters.

Will you do the work to make a difference in society to make sure this stops?

Don’t stand around and watch like those other officers and not respond when you see injustices. You can save someone’s life by just your words…….Try and have that much respect. Speak up. Speak out. Stand with us.

I believe in the greater good and if you are reading this you are a part of that.

Educate and speak the truth.  

“Let me breathe”

– Robert Hawkins, Social Worker, Jefferson JR/SR High School

We stand in Solidarity.

“As a union of over 39,000 educators in Colorado, we stand in solidarity with those fighting racial, social, and economic injustice. We will stand and fight for people like George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor because they deserve those who will stand and fight for them. Those in power who allow this to continue must be held accountable. Our children are watching.”

– Amie Baca-Oehlert, President, Colorado Education Association

Read the full statement HERE.

For more information about the JCEA EMOAT please click HERE.