The Racial Justice Organizing Committee is a group of activists and advocates, working towards the abolition of white supremacy and racism in all of the ways it presents in our communities and schools. The goal of racial justice is not to simply reform our current society; the goal is to uproot white supremacy and plant the seeds for liberation and empowerment that will lead to a more just and equitable world. Our Ten Demands for Radical Education Transformation are foundational towards the vision of racial justice. The 10 Demands, as well as the larger fight for racial justice, will be achieved through purposeful action, building and strengthening relationships between all stakeholders, and continued self-reflection and education.
Our Vision for Racial Justice
What is Racial Justice?
Racial justice is the abolition of white supremacy and racism in all of the ways it presents in our society - structurally through laws, policies, institutions as well as on a personal and interpersonal level. Racial justice is both theoretical and action oriented. It is an ever evolving and never ending process. It requires a historical understanding of how and why we have arrived here in our current state. White supremacy presents itself in myriad ways, through economic oppression due to the racist structure of capitalism, the over policing of Black communities, under resourced public schools and neighborhoods, and the lack of safe and equitable housing. Racial justice is inherently intersectional. It requires fighting for and valuing the lives of all Black people which includes the experiences of trans, queer, feminine, and the otherly abled; regardless of their religion, socioeconomic status, citizenship, age, or educational experience. The goal of racial justice is not to simply reform our current society; the goal is to uproot white supremacy and plant the seeds for a new world.
What does Racial Justice look like in schools?
For schools to be sites of racial justice, they need to prioritize, center and protect all Black children. In centering the most vulnerable of our Black children, such as Black girls or Black students without housing, it means that the schooling experience of all students regardless of race or identity will improve. A racially just school will allow communities and neighborhoods to determine what is necessary; families should not have to navigate the school choice process. Racially just schools require educators and administrators who are truly accountable to the students and parents they serve, with community control over all aspects of the school. Some specific examples of what racial justice looks in schools are:
Transformative justice instead of punitive discipline
Police free schools - defunding school police in order to fund other needed resources such as mental health supports
Equitable funding across the state
Robust antiracist curriculum that includes African American, ethnic and indigenous studies for all grade levels with content training for teachers
Safe and healthy school buildings that function as community centers for everyone
Ongoing antiracist training for all school and district staff
Firing of racist teachers and administrators
Hiring and retaining Black educators - with fully funded pathways for paraprofessionals and high school students to become public school teachers
Trauma responsive mindset - focus on healing
Fully funded and staffed special education and ESOL programs at all schools
Critiquing and eliminating inherently biased practices like standardized testing, uniform policies, software, and grading
What does Racial Justice look like in neighborhoods and communities?
The fight for racial justice requires us to move outside of the four walls of classrooms and connect with society at large. The dream of racial justice cannot be realized without fighting for it within and alongside the very neighborhoods schools serve. Communities should have the political and economic power to address their unique needs. Schools and communities should be in a reciprocal partnership. Racial justice in communities looks like:
Functioning and robust community centers
Community control of land to create green spaces, farms, parks, etc.
Addressing mental health, violence, poverty, trauma
Sustainable Mutual Aid Programs
End to gun violence - programs that address and eliminate the root causes of gun violence
Living wages for all workers - available jobs and career opportunities in all neighborhoods
Communities protecting and caring for each other - police and prison abolition
Government subsidized land/housing for Indigenous people
Reparations for Black and Indigenous people
Safe, affordable housing and healthcare for everyone
HIstory & partnerships
The Racial Justice Organizing Committee formed out of the Caucus of Working Educators and is now an independent organization.
We also partner with other great organizations in the city of Philadelphia
Black Lives Matter Week of Action in Schools is a national movement to push schools towards racial justice for students and teachers. This week focuses on how the 13 guiding principles of Black Lives Matter can enhance and support a curriculum that often excludes many of the struggles and contributions of Black people and other people of color. During this week the Racial Justice Organizing Committee of the Caucus of Working Educators hosts events around the city where the community can engage in this work.
Costs: We are raising money to keep these events free or low cost keeping participation open to everyone. Space rental fees, food for guests and participants, and childcare are important to the success of these events.
Every year this movement of support for the students of the city of Philadelphia grows. We want to keep this momentum and make sure our students know they matter!