We are hurting here at Student Advocacy Center and have been spending the past week or so reeling. We have been pulling in close, supporting our students and families, while also supporting our staff. But tonight, we also wanted to reach out to you. We see you.

Our families are hurting. This morning, parents and guardians on our weekly Zoom support group shared their fears, their anger and the heaviness of this moment. When George Floyd can die like that, what do we tell our children? How do we parent through that moment? My heart split open.

Our students are hurting. On Sunday, one of our Student Advocacy Center youth, housed in a secure facility, participated in a youth-led candidate’s forum meant to help our community chose its next prosecuting attorney. Our student asked pointedly about race, differential sentencing, and about empathy. This young man and I have spent hours talking about the state of our criminal justice system and the lack of restorative, transformative approaches in the system.

His wisdom shines a light.

We cannot let this moment swallow us, even as we navigate through all the valid emotions. We cannot retreat or give up. As my friend and fellow activist, Angela Waters Austin, recently said, this is not a sprint. We need all of you in this justice journey.

We need you to believe in and dream of different ways of being. We need you to commit to the ongoing work to dismantle your own bias and the punishment paradigm. We need you to keep rooted in love.

Do you need something in this moment? Someone to talk to? Someone to help you on your journey? Don’t hesitate to reach out.

We are hurting here at the Student Advocacy Center. But we are sustaining hope and we stand with you in solidarity.

With respect,

Peri Stone-Palmquist