FAST Executive Director Toni K. Rivera Joachin’s Statement on the Death of George Floyd

June 1, 2020

Families & Schools Together, Inc. (FAST) condemns the actions that led to the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minnesota police officers. We offer our deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd, and to the many other families whose loved ones have been tragically killed by the police. We send prayers for peace and comfort during this difficult time, and we stand in solidarity with you in your quest for justice.

FAST was founded on the principle of racial equality, and it is a fundamental value that is implemented in every FAST program in the U.S. and around the world through cultural representation. Respect and trust are the foundation blocks to building strong, healthy relationships. In times like this, when our faith is tested because those entrusted with our safety do not demonstrate respect for the lives of people in our communities, we lose that trust. Once trust is lost, it’s hard to restore. Racial inequality is evident and adversely affects our Black communities and other People of Color in the areas and systems of poverty, incarceration, education, and health care, among others. It will take a bold, planned strategy, created within the community, that organizes and mobilizes people to take action, to bring about meaningful and critical change. We must not let the lives lost be in vain.

My heart is heavy. It is heartbreaking to watch how little disregard one can demonstrate for another’s wellbeing. As a woman of color and a community leader dedicated to social justice, I understand the legitimate pain, fear, frustration, and anger against the prevalent systemic racism and injustices against Black people and People of Color that exists. I challenge us to use the power of these emotions to fuel action that leads to change — together. Here are a few suggestions as we move forward:

  • Truly listen. Lived experience matters!
  • Create a safe place to allow people to be heard. Dialogue creates opportunities for learning to find common ground on strategies to make change happen.
  • Check your bias and prejudices. Examine your feelings for understanding and find a trusted person to talk about how you feel.
  • Be vulnerable. Vulnerability is uncomfortable but leads to personal growth.
  • Be an ally. Speak up when you see or hear inappropriate comments or conversations.
  • Find ways to be involved in community strategies that work to eliminate racial inequality.

Families & Schools Together will continue to work with our community, with our schools, and with other organizations to stand against racism, as well as to ensure that we live in a just world where dignity, respect, compassion, and equality are secured for every person.