The guilty verdicts in Derek Chauvin’s trial mean that Derek Chauvin will be held accountable for the murder of George Floyd, and we hope they give Floyd’s family and community some space to heal. But these verdicts will not bring justice to Mr. Floyd, who should be alive today. Nor will they bring justice to his family, or to countless other Black people who have been killed by those sworn to uphold the law.
True justice will only be served when communities reimagine and reform the racist systems that enable our institutions of law to act with impunity. Since March 29, the day that Chauvin’s trial began, the New York Times reports that “at least 64 people have died at the hands of law enforcement nationwide, with Black and Latino people representing more than half of the dead.”
Meanwhile, other systems of racist oppression that put up barriers to quality education, including early care and education for BIPOC children and families, remain in place. As researchers and educators in the field of early care and education, we see the insidious and traumatizing impact of these systems of racism daily. We see what it does to very young children and their families. We see its correlation with social determinants of health that impede access to education, such as poverty and poorer health. We see it determine which children get access to quality childcare and which do not. We see it when Black, Latinx, Asian, and white children behave similarly in the classroom, and yet get treated differently.
We all share in the work of changing the systems that enable racism and acts of racist violence. In our work at the Early Ed Leadership Institute, we support the professional development and training of the racially and linguistically diverse workforce of early educators. These field-based, expert practitioners are critically important voices for transforming quality in early care and education, which includes proactively creating and implementing anti-racist programs, policies, and funding streams of early care and education.
The verdicts in the trial of Derek Chauvin give us a bit of hope that our children will grow up in a safer, more equitable world—and we recommit to doing the antiracist work necessary to nurture that hope into reality.