This year, the United States has witnessed the crushing toll of systemic racism on Black communities. The brutal murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd at the hands of police, alongside an ongoing pandemic that disproportionately devastates Black and Brown communities, tragically illuminates the continued racism and inequity that Black Americans face every day. The lives lost to American racism demand action to bring about racial justice across every sector of American life, including our nation’s education system.
Here at the Research Alliance, “advancing equity” is central to our mission. We have long valued our commitment to diversity, reflected in a professional community representative of and working in service to NYC's public schools. However, the recent events showcase that this is not enough. Racism permeates our history and society, as demonstrated by deep economic inequities; racist housing policies; limited access to affordable, quality healthcare; violent policing; and, most close to our organization, unequal educational experiences and opportunities for Black youth.
Today, we actively commit to playing our part in achieving racial justice for all Black Americans, and most directly the Black students who attend New York City schools. The Research Alliance believes that Black lives matter, and we commit to ensuring that the truth of this statement is evident in our hiring practices, collaborations, and the voices that inform our research agenda.
As we make a racial justice lens explicit in our research, we are taking the following actions:
- Revising our mission statement, so that it is clearer about our racial justice goals,
- Compiling a review to highlight the wealth of evidence available to inform district and schools leaders’ thinking about how racial justice can be achieved in education,
- Assessing how we define and enact nonpartisanship in the context of a racial justice research agenda,
- Renewing our focus on ensuring that our incoming staff, including senior leadership, reflect our commitment to support Black lives and futures, and
- Contributing new research that can help inform racially just practices and policies that support the Black students and staff who attend and work in and around New York City schools.
Finally, while we are one small organization, focused on education in New York City, our staff stands with Black Americans in their quest for racial justice, and commits itself to work that is informed by and in service to that quest.
Adwoa K. Adjei-Gyampo