As former South African President and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela so poignantly stated, “No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate they can be taught to love; for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

It is our responsibility and our duty as elected officials of the Duluth School Board — and as humans — to challenge the systems that we have created or perpetuated, as those systems continue to create results that, for some, end with adverse and unequal outcomes.

Our children are watching as we react to the death of Mr. George Floyd while in the custody of a Minneapolis police officer now charged with his murder. We must remember that many in our community, especially our children, are grappling with the fear they have just because of the color of their skin, and it is critical that we as elected officials continue to commit ourselves to equity and justice in the systems in which we have power.

As people of privilege, we must close our mouths and open our ears to hear the cries for meaningful change and follow black, brown, and indigenous voices to empower those best equipped to make that change.

We choose to stand with our students, staff, and communities as together we fight injustice while acknowledging the deep and historical pain that underpins the sadness, outrage, and fear.

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Our children are watching as we make the choice of change or complacency. We on the School Board of Independent School District 709 choose change.

This commentary was signed by all members of the Duluth School Board: Kelly Durick Eder, at-large member and vice chair of the board; David Kirby, who represents District 2; Rosie Loeffler-Kemp, representative of District 1; Jill Lofald, District 4 and chair of the board; Alanna Oswald, at-large member and clerk of the board; Paul Sandholm, representative of District 3; and Sally Trnka, at-large member and treasurer for the Duluth School Board.