Editorial, Issue 11 — Volume CVIV

Chicago Is Hurting. Take The Time To Educate Yourself

Our mission states: “Francis W. Parker School educates students to think and act with empathy, courage and clarity as responsible citizens and leaders in a diverse democratic society and global community.” 

Beyond educating students to speak eloquently and to achieve academic excellence in the classroom, the core principle of our school lies on our ability as students to take the initiative to learn and to understand when our world is in turmoil. 

The streets of Chicago, along with dozens of cities across the country, have erupted with thousands of people gathering to protest the murder of George Floyd. Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin knelt directly upon Floyd’s neck for the entirety of eight minutes during his arrest on suspicion of fraud. 

Floyd was pinned onto his stomach, handcuffed in front of a large crowd, shouting for Chauvin to remove his knees from Floyd’s neck. As Floyd called out for his dead mother and repeatedly told the officers that he was unable to breathe, Chauvin, in addition to three other officers, ignored his pleas and became complicit in the murder of another unarmed black man. 

As our communities react to this blatant demonstration of police brutality with feelings of anger, rage, fear, and disgust, it is our social responsibility to do the work of students and educate ourselves. 

“The Weekly” urges you to go beyond the topics learned or readings required in your standard curriculum, and educate yourself on the historical roots of police brutality, riots, weaponizing whiteness, the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the history of the American law enforcement. 

Do not surrender to the shallow belief that issues of race, privilege, police brutality, and modern lynchings are reserved for the history classroom. 

 As students with the privilege to be educated on the violent and oppressive history of race in America, we should not rely on authoritative figures to guide or facilitate our discussions. We should have the important and necessary dialogues about racism and white privilege on our own. We are not helpless; we must utilize our usual conversations in the cafeteria or at the dinner table as opportunities to talk about race, regardless of discomfort or fear of conflict. 

Being an anti-racist ally means that you are taking the initiative to correct and educate your friends and relatives when they commit racist microagressions. “Letting it slide” or “turning a blind eye” is violent complacency. 

Many have taken to Instagram and other social media platforms to spread information, raise public awareness, mourn, and make statements about racial injustice, but reposting Tweets and Instagram stories are only the first step. Without subsequent actions which transcend a convenient online presence, such activism is solely performative. Those who post for the sole purpose of satisfying white guilt and refuse to take action beyond Instagram only undermine real resistance. White students must not exploit their social media accounts to construct a superficial anti-racist persona, but instead must make a conscious and active decision to be anti-racist. The internet is littered with articulate and thought-provoking news articles, speeches, and OpEds that offer ways that we can dismantle antiblack systems built on white supremist ideals. As students with the access to do so, it is our responsibility and civic duty to read everything we can. 

Furthermore, in order to successfully disrupt systems of oppression, we must call local and federal authorities to demand accountability. We must sign petitions like the ones below, and those in our community who are nonblack and can demonstrate financial support must do so through donations to organizations including the ones “The Weekly” has listed.

Our city is broken. The least we can do is educate ourselves and truly understand why our fellow students and Chicagoans protesting police brutality have lit flames to cars and smashed in store windows downtown. We spent weeks in our history classes appreciating the history behind major events and riots before we analyzed them––don’t forget that now.