Resource Review: Don’t Be a Bystander: 6 Tips for Responding to Racist Attacks

by Brian Galaviz

As a public elementary and middle school counselor in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, Don’t Be a Bystander: 6 Tips for Responding to Racist Attacks has an important message for all educators, students and counselors.

In schools there is a focus, by some, on “bullying.” But too often, “bullying” is used as a sanitized term devoid of its often-underlying sentiments of whitesupremacist patriarchy. While it is vital to address harmful behaviors, it is just as important to name specific behaviors – homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, abelism, etc… If we simply label these behaviors as bullying, it is easy to turn away from the underlying discrimination. Using specific language potentially like islamophobia might cause discomfort, not only for the student causing harm, but also for school personnel. Educators may not feel qualified or ready to address these issues. However, it is our ethical obligation as protectors of safe spaces to name and address the root cause of violence. If students do not feel safe, learning is difficult if not impossible.

Another nugget of wisdom for those of us working and learning in schools is the value of resisting the urge to call police when bullying or other threats of harm occur in schools. In Chicago, the corruption within and harm caused by the Chicago Police Department is well documented. Will calling the police really make our communities safer? However, educators may not feel comfortable discussing the intersectionality of young people’s safety and the trauma caused by police. Yet the fact that many educators have family, friends and loved ones who are police officers is an unacknowledged tension and often a major barrier to addressing police violence against young people of color, mainly black and brown youth. Yet having open, honest, restorative conversations regarding police is essential to implementing creative, non-punitive responses to harm in schools.

I recommend watching and discussing: Don’t Be a Bystander: 6 Tips for Responding to Racist Attacks. 

Don’t Be a Bystander, running time approximately 4 minutes, is directed and produced by Lewis Wallace and Hope Dector, conceived by Mariame Kaba and Sarah Jaffe, with support from the Barnard Center for Research on Women. 

Brian, his partner Gloria Ortiz, and their son Diego. 

Brian Galaviz has been an educator for ten years in Chicago Public Schools. He has taught high school science and been a counselor in high school, elementary, and middle school, including in alternative settings for youth who have been pushed out of traditional schools. Both Brian and Gloria are fierce Chicago political and cultural workers!

 

Baton Rouge: Resisting & Building

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“We don’t want to reform the system because it was never made for us.”

This past July, Rethink was asked to join a cadre of folks in support of Baton Rouge youth activists to plan a protest in response to the murder of Alton Sterling by Baton Rouge police.   On Sunday July 10, The Wave youth and Rethink youth lead over 2000 people in a march through the streets of Baton Rouge demanding justice. The three founding members of The Wave are North Baton Rouge residents – Raheejah, Jeanette, and Myra –  who responded immediately to the murder of their neighbor and to the ongoing police brutality they see within Black communities with a call to action— “to unite communities and enact policy changes to stop discriminatory acts against minority individuals,” explained Raheejah Flowers.

Rethinkers lead chants as the youth told a crowd of thousands at the Baton Rouge State Capitol that they are tired—tired of their family and friends being murdered in the streets, tired of their schools failing them, tired of adults constantly telling them “no,” and tired of being tired. And with all of this on their hearts and minds, standing in front of a symbol of the broken system they aim to demolish and transform, they chanted together, “we gon’ be alright!”

“We don’t want to reform the system because it was never made for us,” said Rethinker Ashley Triggs during a WBOK interview following the protest. Rethinkers speak often about their duty to fight for their freedom, echoing the words of Assata Shakur that Rethinkers chant together each time they gather. Young people are fighting every day for their visions of freedom and liberation, and it is past time for adults to love and support them, follow their lead, and champion them as they realize their visions.

As part of their work to dismantle systems of oppression, Rethinkers have developed a 5ive Point Platform which focuses on five specific systems: mass media, education, criminal justice, food access and healthcare. The Platform lays bare the inequities that youth face in New Orleans, and cities like ours across the country, providing concrete demands from each system to reflect the humanity and dignity that young people deserve.

We choose to remind everyone that organizing and protest isn’t a fad. This is not simply a moment. We have a legacy of resistance at our backs.   The depth of our commitment to our own humanity lives in our bones.

Rethinkers and powerful youth all over are making moves to transform the world—and they know they have nothing to lose but their chains.

In love and in struggle

karen “kg” marshall
rethink | executive director
web: therethinkers.org