Message From The West Orange Education Association (6/15/2020)
Inspire. Encourage. Instruct.
This is the motto of the West Orange Education Association, which proudly represents the teachers, paraprofessionals, administrative assistants, security officers and computer technicians serving the West Orange Public Schools. We do our level best to inspire, encourage, and instruct every day. We know that we are guides for our children, and we take that solemn responsibility very seriously. We are dedicated to the premise that every child is valuable and respected and should be made to know that they are equal partners in our society and are born worthy of that respect and value, irrespective of our differences.
Every day, we work to be an oasis in a troubled world.
However, the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others have unquestionably demonstrated that our efforts alone are not enough, and have exposed a faultline in our country, a cancerous and omnipresent relic of our country’s original sin - slavery - a long and continuing history of systemic oppression against people of color, from Reconstrucion’s Jim Crow laws to the voter suppression efforts and police brutalities today.
We can neither truly fulfill nor promote our baseline principles unless and until we use our collective voice to speak out against all forms of prejudice and discrimination and protect all members of the West Orange community.
We start right here.
We say their names. We do so sadly, but we do so with purpose.
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery. Tony McDade, Walter Scott, Dion Johnson, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, and so many more.
We say their names. They should still be alive.
We are the teachers, paraprofessionals, administrative assistants, security officers and computer technicians of the West Orange School District. We are the West Orange Education Association.
And we are tired of this.
We, the members of WOEA, proudly declare that Black Lives Matter.
Of course we do. They always have. They always will.
But this has to stop.
We love our community. We love and treasure its diversity. We love and value our differences and embrace our commonalities.
We are West Orange. We are stronger and better for our diversity.
And we stand together in support of all our people and in opposition to senseless violence against all people.
And we are dedicated to keeping our community members united and ALIVE!
We believe that – thankfully and at long last – we are at a REAL and LASTING inflection point in our history. We think that the winds of change are FINALLY blowing in a way where we might see righteous changes that show respect for all people. We can see that decent people are ALL now allies in the effort to address systemic racism, and that those who oppose change are revealing themselves to be opponents of equality, opponents of fairness, opponents of those who love their neighbors.
We believe that our collective understanding of what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil, is undeniably clear. We believe that the promise of this nation that all men – and women – are created equal, embraces each and every American – irrespective of race, gender, and ethnicity - and we are dedicated in words AND DEEDS to making certain that this promise is fulfilled.
We do see color. We are not blind, and do not pretend to be other than human. But we do not judge, we do not measure, we do not find issue with our differences.
We are educators. We embrace the rainbow that is our community. We celebrate our distinctions and understand that the brilliant mosaic that is West Orange affords us all the opportunity to learn and to grow and to expand our world by exposure to those whose experiences might be a little different from our own. This exposure naturally results in our learning that our experiences are far more similar than alien, that our humanity unites us, and artificial distinctions – whether based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion, or any of a host of factors - only serve to drive artificial wedges between natural allies.
The West Orange Education Association is a collective of employees dedicated to the well-being of our incredibly and wonderfully diverse community. We will not stand for division.
Our association embraces the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
We will never turn a blind eye against oppression in any way, shape, or form.
Our students, teachers, staff, and administrators will continue to work together in our quest to build a more peaceful, just, and loving world.
We are more determined than ever to put our words into practice:
Inspire. Encourage. Instruct.
Stand united. Stand for peace. Stand for equality.
The West Orange Education Association