The title for my Chaparral article this month comes from Harvard history professor Khalil Gibran Muhammad who spoke at this year’s CFT Convention. The convention was inspirational, but a reminder that inspiration without action is ineffectual.
It’s no secret how the American Labor Movement has championed diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility in its history. Giving people equal opportunity and equal pay for the same work no matter one’s gender or race is at the heart of unionism. However, if you are unfamiliar with this history, I highly recommend this article: "A Brief History of Labor, Race and Solidarity".
The Guild is involved in a wide variety of ways with DEIA work through the California Federation of Teachers (CFT). At this year’s convention (for the convention overview, click here: https://www.cft.org/article/cft-virtual-convention-brings-hope-and-change), delegates had the opportunity to hear Khalil Gibran Muhammad speak on racial justice (https://www.cft.org/article/khalil-gibran-muhammad-racial-justice) and director of California TRANScends Ebony Harper speak on climate and disability justice, race equity, and trans rights (https://www.cft.org/article/vanguard-fighting-transgender-rights). Awards were given to advocates who have fought long and hard for equitable and accessible education and working conditions for educators in the state of California.
Delegates spoke on and passed several resolutions with overwhelming majorities in the areas of healthcare for part-time faculty – a serious equity and accessibility issue that affects thousands of our colleagues – dismantling systemic racism, and a New Deal for Higher Education. A special resolution condemning anti-Asian violence came to the floor due to the timeliness of the recent murders of six Asian women in Georgia. For all the resolutions that were passed please click here: https://www.cft.org/resolutions-and-policy
As a delegate, I felt a surge of hope for what is possible and what will become a new and better normal.
But then, another Black man was killed by a police officer in my hometown of metro Minneapolis while the trial of another police officer responsible for the murder of George Floyd continued 10 miles away. Then a Latino child was killed by a police officer in Chicago. It just never stops.
The phrase "all lives matter" will continue to be an oxymoron if our society cannot stop the degradation of Black, Latinx, Asian, Indigenous, and LGBTQ lives. I look forward to the day where we won't have to write statements and resolutions condemning racist/xenophobic/homophobic/transphobic violence perpetrated by a cisgendered white supremacist system both on institutional and individual levels. Until then, we must continue the work of diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility wherever we are, no matter how great or small, to change whatever we can to make sure those we work, live, and interact with know their lives matter to us and that we see, hear, and trust their experiences even though they may be different from our own.
The Guild remains committed to making our workplace a more diverse, inclusive, equitable, and accessible environment. From attending CFT events and getting involved on the statewide level to working with our various constituencies at GCC on DEIA efforts, we can all find a way to contribute. The union is all of us, together, inclusive. We must all do whatever we can to make sure that the work we do and the service we provide is mindful of these efforts. As union members, our history demands that of us.
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