Black Lives Matter
Letter to Our Community by UAI Family
Dear UAI Students, Parents and Staff,
We want to publicly address the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Their senseless deaths at hands of law enforcement are re-opening deep wounds in our community. We, at UAI, share our community’s outcry that justice is long overdue - that for too long, racist policies have led to the criminalization and incarceration of black youth, to underfunded school systems, to food and housing insecurity, and to a healthcare system that denies equal access to all in America.
As a community of teachers and learners, we have an obligation to speak clearly and with one voice of our shared values. UAI Junior, Ericka Reyes, spoke for all of us when she said:
“This week has been an eventful week full of unity to bring justice and equality to those apart of the black community. I encourage you to tell your friends, family, and peers to sign petitions and encourage them to use their voices to speak out on the problem and spread the message of the Black Lives Matter movement. It can be an uncomfortable subject for some but that feeling of discomfort is nothing compared to what George Floyd felt in those 9 minutes of having a knee on his neck. It’s nothing compared to what Ahmaud Arbery felt knowing that he wouldn’t be going home after jogging. It’s nothing compared to how Breonna Taylor felt as police barged into her own home killing her for a crime that didn’t have anything to do with her. It’s nothing compared to the fear people in the black community face on a daily basis. If we don’t educate ourselves and the people around us, this centuries old cruelty and inequality will continue. Don’t be afraid to educate yourself and others on the matter. Using our voices is CRITICAL at this point in time. Help those who’s voices have been ignored for far too long. ️
Over the last week we have opened several spaces for young people and adults to come together to “check in” about recent events both far and near, and further spaces to think through action steps that we can take as a community to grow the Urban Assembly Institute of Math and Science for Young Women, as an antiracist institution, affect change, and bring equity to our communities.
We want to emphasize that this is neither a start nor an end for us as a community. We have been and will continue to be committed to offering a curriculum which reflects the needs of our young people in the moment and for the future. We hope that you will join us where you can, reach out if you need someone to talk to, and lend your voice if we have left something unsaid or undone.
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery by Ericka Reyes
This week has been an eventful week full of unity to bring justice and equality to those a part of the Black community. I encourage you to tell your friends, family, and peers to sign petitions and encourage them to use their voices to speak out on the problem and spread the message of the Black Lives Matter Movement. It can be an uncomfortable subject for some but that feeling of discomfort is nothing compared to what George Floyd felt in those 9 minutes of having a knee on his neck. It’s nothing compared to what Ahmaud Arbery felt knowing that he wouldn’t be going home after jogging. It’s nothing compared to how Breonna Taylor felt as police barged into her own home killing her for a crime that didn’t have anything to do with her. It’s nothing compared to the fear people in the Black community face on a daily basis. If we don’t educate ourselves and the people around us, this centuries - old cruelty and inequality will continue. So, please encourage those with social media to use their platform no matter how big or small because if your message changes the mind of just one person who grew up learning to hate, it’s a step in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to educate yourself and others on the matter. I know I don't know everything myself and I’m still learning on how I can help and contribute. Using our voices is CRITICAL at this point in time. Help those whose voices have been ignored for far too long. ️
To find a list of petitions you can sign and more information on how you can help and contribute.
Police Reform by Mariama Bah
How Can We Make and Change History through Police Reform?
I hope this email finds you well! I want to start off by telling you that I value your voices. OUR community values your voices. So, you obviously all must be aware of the, sadly long-overdue, nation wide police reform movement that have been empasized by the heinous and brutal murder of our black brother George Floyd. Along with the murder of many of our other black brothers and sisters. As human beings we CANNOT let this happen ever again. WE CANNOT let hatred freely roam our streets. This is why I am urging YOU to use your voices, let it be heard, let it be absorbed, and let it make and change history. That is what the world needs now; a group of assertive young women of color that are unapologetically LOUD AND PROUD. A group of young women of color with minds and voices that can transcend barriers. A group of people that are willing and ready to join this movement. So, LET’S BE LOUD.
Below is an email template that you can send to Mayor De Blasio (firstname.lastname@example.org) urging him to implement the 8 policies that the 8cantwait project by Campaign Zero have come up with. Feel Free to absolutely add your own voice to it. Make it your own. Make it unique. You could definitely add an anecdote that speaks to this deadly system we are trying to dismantle.
Hello Mayor are Blasio,
I hope this email finds you well! My name is [ ], I am a student at UAI of Math and Science for Young Women, and I am a resident of [borough], New York City. I am writing this email to urge you to implement a police reform system that will ensure the safety of our black brothers and sisters. Campaign Zero has come up with a project called 8cantwait that essentially formalizes 8 policies that Mayors should implement in order to reform our police system. After doing research I have discovered that you have already implemented four out of these eight policies, and I applaud you for that. However, the other four cannot be forgotten. Those policies should be implemented now because together, the eight policies can decrease police violence by 72%.
Below are the remaining four policies that have not been implemented in the NYPD:
Ban chokeholds and strangleholds
By banning this use of lethal force, you are preventing the unnecessary death of many civilians.
Require warning before shooting
Officers should verbally state their intention of shooting beforehand.
Require Comprehensive reporting
This requires officers to report every time they use or threaten to use force against a civilian.
Require exhausting other means before shooting
This will require officers to contemplate all other reasonable means before shooting.
I hope that you will take these policies in consideration. I hope that you will choose to do good by your people. I hope that your power will be used to make and change history.
You should all use this template to exercise your freedom of speech. I promise it will take no more than 5 minutes of your time. I mean you are literally just inputting your name and borough. You can copy and paste it into the email you will be sending.
Also, I want to thank Erica Reyes for her heartfelt and inspirational note. Everyone is invited to share their poems, drawings, any of their creative outlets, or just some ressources to contribute to this movement. If you have any questions, you can reach out to me and I will do my best to help.
Stay safe. Stay loud. Stay proud!