An open letter to the Cleveland community on the conviction of Derek Chauvin
April 20, 2021
Earlier today, former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on all charges in the death of George Floyd. The importance of this verdict, after so many other Black lives have been lost to senseless violence, cannot be understated. And yet, justice in this single case, for George Floyd and his family, does not bring justice to all that came before him. Justice in this case alone didn’t prevent the additional senseless losses of life that followed, including most recently, Daunte Wright. And unfortunately, justice in this case alone will not solve the very real, continuing racial injustice that continues to exist in this country.
Today’s verdict defines a profound moment in our country. We must use this moment to critically examine the systems and structures in communities across this nation and in our own community in Cleveland, and challenge ourselves again to address the longstanding inequities that, together, form the public health crisis of racism and racial injustice.
As I said at the time of George Floyd’s murder, each of us is either part of the problem or part of the solution. What we do or don’t do today will truly determine whether George Floyd’s life and the lives of so many others will be honored.
The coronavirus pandemic exposed our community to the harsh realities facing so many people of color--realities that have existed far too long. As we emerge from the pandemic, and as we reflect on this single moment, we must commit ourselves again to creating new systems for our communities that are more fair, just and good. My colleagues and I in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District are committed to doing so. I urge all of Cleveland and all of the country to join us – to honor all of the lives lost, including George Floyd’s.
Resources on the Derek Chauvin Verdict
The announcement of a verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial has drawn national attention to this and other social justice issues. During times of heightened anxiety, CMSD stands ready to support our students, parents and caregivers and educators with safe, orderly learning environments where we are committed to assisting one another through difficult times in our nation.
While routines are important, and while many students count on those routines during times of stress, our CMSD staff is prepared to assist students in processing their thoughts and feelings about the verdicts. To assist them and others in talking about this and other social justice issues, we have made these lesson plans and resources available to staff and families to assist in guiding those important conversations.
Resources for Students & Families
Talking About Race & Racism
- Cleveland Public Library: Discussing Race
- Anti-Defamation League: lessons, table talks, and books:
- Table Talk: George Flyod, Racism, and Law Enforcement
- Middle School Level lessons
- Books: filter by topic
- Tolerance.org Lessons for Middle Schoolers
- Talking to Kids about Racism and Justice – Oakland Library
- 100 Race Conscious Things You Can Say to Your Child – Conversation Starters
- How to talk to white students about race
- Anti-Racism Resources - Books for Parents
- New York Times Anti-Racist Reading List
- Anti-Racism for Kids 101: Starting to Talk About Race - books for courageous conversations
- Beyond the Hashtag: How to Take Anti-Racist Action in Your Life from TeenVogue
- Having 'The Talk': Expert Guidance on Preparing Kids for Police Interactions - A child psychiatrist, a former public defender and a police officer give advice on how and when to have "the talk." While the risk of a police interaction going wrong is higher for black children, it's information that all kids could benefit from knowing.
- Teaching about Race, Racism, and Police Violence - Resources from Teaching Tolerance to help spur discussions around implicit bias and systemic racism, and also empower your students to enact the changes that will create a more just society
- Teaching about Racism, Violence, Inequality and the Criminal Justice System - An ADL collection of resources on Bias, Race and Injustice
- Talking to White Kids About Race & Racism - Silence perpetuates racism, but it can be hard to know how to start. This hour-long program is about talking to white kids of all ages about race and racism
- Your Kids Aren't Too Young to Talk About Race: Resource Roundup - podcasts, booklists, and toys to talk to young children about race
Social & Emotional Learning Resources
- Resilience Coping Intervention - a group discussion about what youth have experienced.
- Skills for Psychological Recovery - an educational skills building intervention
- Addressing Race and Trauma in the Classroom: A Resource for Educators - addressing the interplay of race and trauma and its effects on students
- Psychological First Aid - Daily strategies to ensure children are heard and feel protected during these uncertain times.
- Helping Youth after Community Trauma: Tips for Educators - natural disasters, school violence, and can affect students’ learning, behavior, and relationships.
- Community Violence: Reactions and Actions in Dangerous Times - help youth keep themselves safe and make positive choices in dangerous times.
- Secondary Traumatic Stress Fact Sheet for Organizations Employing Community Violence Workers - prevent or reduce secondary trauma stress among community violence workers