Like so many around the world, the staff at Jumpstart for Young Children is experiencing a range of emotions following the jury’s guilty verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin. In recognition of the emotional and mental stress endured during the months leading up to the trial, testimony leading up to the verdict, recent mass shootings, and additional police violence against people of color—including the fatal shooting of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant—Jumpstart officially closed its offices on Wednesday, April 21, to give staff space and time to process all that is happening. While we know that it will take longer to achieve racial equity, we do want to acknowledge that this historic verdict has created a crack in systemic racism and when there are cracks, you cannot stop the light from coming in. True justice for George Floyd will tragically never be realized because Derek Chauvin took his life; however, the guilty verdict was an important and necessary step in a lengthy, ongoing journey to fight systemic injustice.
At Jumpstart, where one of our core values is Social Justice, we know that our mission requires us to continue our efforts to dismantle systemic racism wherever it exists. We cannot advance equitable learning outcomes for young children without also addressing the racist structures and systems that prevent children and especially children of color from reaching their potential. Jumpstart exists today because in 1993 a group of college students working at a summer camp understood that these very systems were the reason why they needed a way to give kids a jumpstart, not just over the summer, but every day. Our role in the larger fight against social injustice is to work towards correcting inequity in early education. We remain committed to a future where all children are able to thrive.
Today, even as we feel a sense of relief for the outcome of this particular trial; already, we know that one example of justice and accountability does not mean that the problem has been solved. Until we have a system that supports people of color, rather than one that leads to the deaths of Ma’Khia Bryant and George Floyd, social justice work cannot rest.