NJEA’s officers, President Marie Blistan, Vice President Sean M. Spiller and Secretary-Treasurer Steve Beatty issued this statement this morning regarding yesterday’s violent insurrection at the United States Capitol:
“The shameful and un-American insurrection at the United States Capitol yesterday was a low point in American history. But while it was horrifying to watch that rioting criminal mob, their attack on America ultimately failed because our democracy is stronger than their cynicism, hatred and violence.
“Despite the complicity and dishonesty of far too many elected leaders who fomented this violence by supporting the President’s protracted attacks on our American values, democracy prevailed when Congress carried out its duty to certify the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
“While we honor that outcome, we will not allow it to make us complacent. Our democracy is resilient, but it is not guaranteed. The last four years have demonstrated that we will only have a democracy for as long as the people demand it. Failing that, we will be subject to the will of a violent minority.
“As educators, it is our sacred duty to prepare every generation of students to understand, respect and participate in the functioning of our government. We must use the coming four years to rebuild our damaged institutions and recommit to our democratic values. Public schools will be a fundamental part of that work and educators, as always, will lead.
“We must also note the disturbing contrast between the deferential treatment of yesterday’s violent mob and the aggressive, violent treatment of so many peaceful protesters over the course of the last year and throughout our history. There is no question that racism drives that difference. There is no question that white privilege protected yesterday’s insurrectionists when institutional and individual racism have long exposed so many non-violent protesters of color to great physical harm.
“It is no mere coincidence that the insurrection took place in support of a president and members of Congress who were attempting to disenfranchise millions of voters of color and to substitute their own will for the will of the American people. Racism and true democracy cannot coexist. To be truly democratic we must pursue and achieve anti-racism. That will remain the work of our union and the work of all who truly believe in the founding values of our nation.”