On the trial of Derek Chauvin, a letter from Randy Ribay, Diversity, Equity, Belonging and Social Justice Coordinator
On Tuesday afternoon, the trial of Derek Chauvin came to a close as the jury found the former Minneapolis police officer guilty of murdering George Floyd. It’s vital to remember that even though the outcome of the trial brings a measure of relief to George Floyd’s family and many throughout the country, it is a rare instance of accountability, not justice. True justice would be George Floyd still breathing today. It would be BIPOC Americans not fearing whether they or the people they love might lose their lives at the hands of police or vigilantes for nearly any reason. It would be the dismantling of systemic bias in all institutions, not just policing. It would be a society free of anti-Asian hatred, antisemitism, and all other forms of discrimination.
As you know, when the video of George Floyd went viral last spring, it sparked nationwide protests against police brutality and brought conversations about systemic injustice back into the mainstream public sphere. In response, it seemed nearly every corporation and organization around the country—including Kehillah—issued statements affirming their belief that Black lives matter and their commitment to equity and justice. A year later, it’s important to keep ourselves accountable to those statements. What have we learned about how to do that? What have we done? I’d like to share bit of that here:
- • Last summer we ran a student reading group and a employee reading group to learn about and discuss the history of racial dynamics in the United States
- • I took on the newly-created role at Kehillah of Diversity, Equity, Belonging and Social Justice Coordinator to focus and align our work in these areas
- • We formed an equity-based professional learning community for faculty
- • We created a BIPOC employees affinity group that meets monthly
- • We began formally acknowledging a diverse array of multicultural holidays and celebrations, with an eye toward those with intersecting Jewish identities by sharing such events as a Chinese Lunar New Year Kabbalat Shabbat
- • We’ve been in conversation with Be’chol Lashon and the director of Jewish education at Facing History and Ourselves regarding potential DEB/SJ training opportunities for our Board, our employees, and our students for next school year
- • We conducted a community-wide climate survey focused focused on understanding diversity and inclusion at Kehillah; we’re now in the process of analyzing that data to develop a concrete plan to focus our DEB/SJ efforts moving forward, a plan which will be shared with all of you as soon as it’s ready
There’s still work to do—there always is. There is no finish line. The world is always shifting, so we must always learn, reflect, adjust, refine, and resasses what it means to create a truly just society. But by being transparent with our ongoing efforts, we hope this helps communicate that the statement we issued last spring was not empty. We are doing what we can prepare our students to create “extraordinary futures”—not just for themselves, but for the world.
As always, if you ever have any questions, thoughts, or feelings related to DEB/SJ work at Kehillah, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.