I have known and experienced intense and pervasive racism all my life.
Since the early 1950s, I was provided with a plethora of examples of evidence to reinforce the assertion that I was not accepted, and often hated, based solely on the pigmentation of my skin. It was the actions of my kindergarten and seventh-grade teachers that proved that where there is knowledge and understanding by the hands of wonderful teachers, we have a society that is inclined to embrace peace, respect and tolerance of others.
The spark of hope that those teachers instilled in me was a fundamental force that has shaped my journey of bringing people together ever since. I want to extend that hope to the students of Riverside County who feel oppressed, unloved, ignored and hated for the color of their skin, their gender identity, socioeconomic status or the disability they are overcoming.
The current spotlight on the unnecessary and cruel deaths of African Americans and all people of color targeted by hate burdens my heart. While we mourn over the death of physical life, there is another death. The death of the spirit and the death of hope lingering in our communities.
The reality of the daily existence of discrimination and unfair treatment of people of color must end.
This end can only be possible when we stand in solidarity against the injustices we see in our world and live a life rooted in peace.
The redemptive power of coming together in unity as a community and a nation must also acknowledge the historical realities and unimaginable pain underlying the protests — many of which are all too familiar from previous demonstrations calling for justice.
As educators, we must insist on curriculum that purposefully and intentionally develops anti-racist and empathetic future teachers, doctors, astronauts, entrepreneurs, legislators, police officers.
The evidence of action must be reflected in policy statements, equitable procedures, enhanced anti-discrimination training for staff, independent third party investigations of complaints and personal, professional and organizational accountability.
What we do is just as important as how we do it. Our actions must reflect fairness, kindness, appreciation, justice and the love of all humanity.
It is time to stop the cruel injustices and pervasive systemic racism that continues to divide our nation.Advancing the affirmation of human dignity for all remains the moral imperative to carry forward into the present and to the future.
The time is now to demonstrate the evidence of your willingness to inspire change with your actions on the issues that matter most.
I will be the embodiment of that evidence with my actions as a mother, a grandmother, a teacher and a leader.
As the Riverside County superintendent of schools, I see it as inherent in my duties to ensure that the more than 430,000 students in 512 schools in Riverside County will grow up in a world where education and social justice go hand in hand.
A world where our students will thrive and become individuals who embrace unity, peace and justice.
Judy D. White is the Riverside County superintendent of schools and a resident of Riverside County. This fall marks the start of her 43rd year of service in public education.