Bearing Witness | Children's Law Center

Bearing Witness

April 21, 2021

To our Children's Law Center community:

As my colleagues and I reflect on yesterday’s verdicts, we’re experiencing a range of emotions. Just as the guilty verdicts were read, a Black child – this time a 16-year-old girl in foster care in Ohio – was also killed by police.

Instead of sharing a more formal statement, I thought it might be better to forward the email I sent to colleagues this morning. I hope you and your families are also taking time to reflect and understand each of our roles in this continual fight for justice.

Thank you for your commitment to our mission and to the children and families we work with every day.

With hope and resolve,

Judith

_____________________________

Colleagues,

There are so many possible emotions to have right now. Hope, numbness, anger, relief, gratitude, fear, exhaustion, resolve. Whatever you are feeling right now, I hope you will be open to those feelings and be gentle with yourself. I am feeling relieved – but I'm also a bit numb from the weight of other killings and assaults on Black men and children that have been in the news this week.

Last night I couldn't stop thinking about Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old girl who recorded George Floyd's murder on her phone. She couldn't have known then that her act of bearing witness would reverberate across America and around the world. She stayed, despite her fear and despite the trauma she must have endured watching Mr. Floyd be murdered by a police officer. It is thinking about Darnella which reawakens my feeling of hope and resolve.

Darnella is just one of millions of Black youth and adults who, along with allies of all races, have borne witness, have marched, have litigated, have voted, have fought and too often have been beaten or died in the fight for racial justice and to stop the violence and killing of Black people by the police.

I hope you will also see that you, like Darnella, are one of the millions who are bending the arc of the moral universe toward justice. There are so many ways we need to fight. By changing laws, by empowering our youth, by reuniting children with their parents, by holding landlords accountable to clean up unsafe housing, by fighting for equity in schools, by learning, by owning our place in a white supremacist culture. I feel privileged to work alongside each of you doing this hard work.

Words are never enough. But I am beginning to understand their role in bearing witness.

Judith