SEATTLE – About 1,000 Seattle Public Schools teachers will wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts Wednesday in what they say is a bid to raise awareness about racial injustice within the school district.
Teachers are encouraged to have race-related lesson plans and they’re offered resources to guide the conversation.
From the TV screens to social media to the classrooms at Garfield High, students are talking about racial injustices and Black Lives Matter.
“It’s too much seeing, like almost every day, another shooting, another shooting of black people all around the world,” said Garfield High School junior Aman Welderfield.
“Some of them are for it, some of them are against it, some of them just don’t understand what it’s for and some of them think there’s no point to it and we should just get over it,” said Garfield High senior Bailey Adams.
The conversation sparked again after threats of violence were made at John Muir Elementary School where the group, “Black Men United,” planned to wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts and greet students.
“What inspired me the most was when students asked, When are Hamilton teachers going to do this? When are Seattle school teachers going to stand up and say Black Lives Matter and celebrate us?” said Seattle Public Schools teacher Sarah Arvey.
The response is that many Seattle Public Schools teachers will wear Black Lives Matter T-shirts. They’ve already pre-ordered 1,000 for teachers.
“It’s important for us to know the history of racial justice and racial injustice in our country and in our world and really in order for us to address it. When we’re silent, we close off dialogue and we close the opportunity to learn and grow from each other,” said Arvey.
They’re not just wearing T-shirts. They’re changing the curriculum and dialogue in the classroom. Even providing resources and books to help teachers facilitate the conversations. But not everyone agrees with the method.
After posting this story on social media, one person wrote on Facebook, “ENOUGH!!!! ALL LIVES MATTER!!!! PERIOD.” Another person tweeted, “Their 'reading list' and teacher ideas are censored, but this is appropriate??? #no.”
It's a backlash the teachers say they expect but won’t change their focus.
“I would say that it’s not a political agenda. I would say we’re here to support families. We’re here to support students. As Rita from the NAACP said, when black lives matter, all lives matter,” said Avery.
The teachers point to a U.S. Department of Education study that shows black students are four times more likely to be punished for the same infraction as their white counterparts. The teachers say racial injustice is happening in the schools and turning a blind eye won’t solve the problem.