You choose the career,
together we chart the path.
The ultimate job of an educator is to create circumstances for a student’s imagination to flourish beyond what they initially thought possible – to open doors, not close them. The District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund has a 46-year history of creating educational opportunities for low-income students. Tens of thousands of people have graduated from the Training Fund, having moved into a greater awareness of the possible.

             However, we do this work within the reality that every system with which we interact – the healthcare system, the justice system, the economic system, the education system – is racist. Racism, Angela Davis once said, has infected every aspect of America. And so, we work to give our students hope against the very real backdrop of oppression. It is a daily battle and we the staff, and especially the staff members of color, engage in a daily struggle to maintain hope in this repressive environment. We are grieving in the midst of persistent terror, politically supported white supremacist values and centuries of violence inflicted on our people. In the midst of this daily horror, we gain courage from the giants who came before us. They fought, marched, organized, and taught for a future where injustice cannot thrive – and so must we. We will continue to fight, march, organize, and teach to build our communities up while dismantling racism at every turn.

                From its conception, the Training Fund has striven to be an anti-racist organization. The Fund’s mission to change the conditions and opportunities available to low wage healthcare workers, mostly black and brown women of color, are intimately connected to an anti-racist vision and the changes that must happen in our country. We commit ourselves to the dismantling of racism and any structures, practices, or policies that allow these violent ideologies to exist. We commit to ensuring our spaces are safe, equitable and welcoming. And we commit to the daily practice of examining what we can and what we must do better.

              But change is excruciatingly slow.  James Baldwin tried to explain it: “I imagine that one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, that they will be forced to deal with pain.”

              In the mean time, century after century, black and brown people have been forced to bear the brunt of this pain. And then, just days after the heinous and racist murders of Ahmaud Arbury and Breonna Taylor,  George Floyd was murdered by a white police officer. A heinous act captured on a video by a courageous 17-year-old girl, with bystanders pleading for the officer to not commit the crime they saw taking place before their very eyes. The entire country and allies across the world erupted in anguish and said with a single voice “No more.”

        In solidarity, the District 1199C Training & Upgrading Fund joins them in protest.

        Protest has never been gentle work. Our mission of expanding economic opportunities for marginalized people, puts us on the front lines of dismantling racist institutions. Nelson Mandela explained that “Peace is not just the absence of conflict; peace is the creation of an environment where all can flourish regardless of race, color, creed, religion, gender, class, caste or any other social markers of difference.”

        Now, more than ever, we must come together to support each other, our students, our union, and our communities. Our students' future depends on our ability to continue to create educational opportunities despite the barriers imposed by racism. As Baldwin reminds us, “I am what time, circumstance, history, have made of me, certainly, but I am, also, much more than that. So are we all.”