by ctu communications | 08/14/2017
Sadly, these types of messages are becoming all too common.
What happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, last weekend was just the latest manifestation of the ignorance and injustice that exists not only in our country, but across the world. Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives and were injured in Saturday’s horrific tragedy. As a union of educators, we teach our youth to be thoughtful and respectful members of their communities, and it can be difficult to explain to them why such evil continues to exist.
Overt displays of white supremacy, however, aren’t America’s only means of expressing its hatred—they’re just its most recognizable face. Voter suppression, racial profiling, mass incarceration and unconstitutional policing are among other threats to decency and the sanctity of human life, so it is extremely important that as individuals, we stand in strong moral condemnation of all forms of racism.
As a union of educators, we must fight for issues that matter most to our students, and their families and communities. The white supremacists in Charlottesville want to rewrite history and pretend that the privileged are somehow losing privilege, but we know that in Chicago, wealth and power are concentrated in certain hands. We may not have confederate statues, but we have monuments to wealth and corporations all over our city in the form of skyscrapers and river walks, while scores of schools named after Black leaders were closed in 2013.
We have not had a tiki torch rally here, but our city does have a long history of documented, systemic racism and racial violence.
The rise of alt-right nationalism is connected to attacks on unions, the working class and increasing inequality in our country—issues that local leaders have a responsibility to address. We praise the peaceful counter-protestors who took on this responsibility and unknowingly risked their lives in Charlottesville last weekend, and will continue to stand behind anyone fighting injustice, whether it’s in our city, our country or abroad.
Our position remains unchanged: The Chicago Teachers Union condemns any hate action and speech based on race, religion, citizenry, gender and gender identification. We embrace dialogue and debate in our union, but we will never waver when it comes to fighting racism. To sit idly by and do nothing would make us just as guilty as those we condemn.
Karen GJ Lewis, CTU President
Jesse Sharkey, CTU Vice President
Michael Brunson, CTU Recording Secretary
Maria Moreno, CTU Financial Secretary