from Karen Strickland, President of AFT Washington, AFL-CIO
The torches, Nazi salutes and flags, weapons, and racist words expressed by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, this weekend are yet more incidents signaling that institutionalized and individual racism is alive and well in our country. The terrorist act of a young man resulting in the death of Heather Heyer and the injuries of 18 others demands that we finally, fully acknowledge the extreme threat posed by white supremacy.
As union members, as education employees, as community members, and as people who care about human rights and the genuine opportunity to live a dignified and fulfilling life, we have the opportunity and the responsibility to stand together against bigotry and hatred.
As educators we seek teachable moments. Indeed dialogue is an important part of dismantling racism in our country, but we must also intentionally act to change our laws, policies, and practices to combat hate. We must support only those elected leaders and candidates who understand institutional racism and act on their responsibility to combat this scourge.
I urge all of the members of AFT Washington to join the struggle against bigotry and hatred and support human rights and dignity for all. I am working with AFT leadership to prepare for future hate-inspired events on campuses; you can read a statement from the Higher Education Program and Policy Council of which I am a member here.