Labor Day: Time to recommit to the American Dream

Flying the flag on Labor Day. (Photo: Deborah Kolb, via Shutterstock))

We all could use a day off this Labor Day.

The past six months have felt like six years, as Americans endure an intersection of crises that threaten our health, endanger our safety, injure our collective soul and tear at the very fabric of our democracy. We are all very tired.

Across our country, working people are weary from the non-stop barrage of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, systemic racism, widespread inequality, unprecedented natural disasters, and a deeply divided nation that threatens our future. You can see the fatigue in the eyes of healthcare workers battling the deadly virus, on the faces of educators missing their students and teaching in new ways through distance learning, and in the tears of Black Americans protesting in the streets against the continued brutality of institutional practices  that weren’t built for all.

Ensuring that the promise of America is extended to all will take great effort but working families across the country still believe.

Even before the pandemic, our charge was tall, and our needs were great. But these crises have exposed and exacerbated the vast inequities in our communities, causing parents across the country to check in on their sleeping children at night and wonder if their American Dream still exists.

We’ve had to grapple with the effects of the pandemic on our students and our own families. Some of us have lost loved ones and are still trying to figure out life without them. Across the country, workers have been giving long hours and extraordinary effort to support each other, help communities and rise together to defend our most vulnerable because we know that “an injury to one is an injury to all” is a core American value worth fighting for.

This is why educators spent all summer advocating for the support and resources our communities need, calling for classrooms to re-open when conditions are safe, and learning best practices and techniques to show our students we are still here to teach them even when we cannot be together in person. It’s why we entered the teaching profession in the first place—because we believe better is possible. And there are no days off for dreamers.

There are only two months before the most important election ever. Facing the biggest problems in our history and breaking through the crippling polarization and divisiveness is going to take all our combined efforts every single day until Nov. 3, when we will reclaim this nation and chart a new era of compassion and heart.

We’re excited to stand together for a brighter tomorrow with leaders who see and know us and, more importantly, are ready to dream with us. Our country needs change and it’s up to us to send the right leader to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Ensuring that the promise of America is extended to all will take great effort but working families across the country still believe.

The great labor leader Cesar Chavez said: “When we are really honest with ourselves, we must admit our lives are all that really belong to us. So, it is how we use our lives that determines the kind of people we are.” Let’s celebrate our work for our dreams and how tired it has made us, and then let’s step up and show the world just what kind of people Americans are.

As you pause this Labor Day, take care of yourself and be ready for the fight again tomorrow, because justice never sleeps.

Editor’s Note: E. Toby Boyd is a kindergarten teacher in Elk Grove and president of the 310,000-member California Teachers Association.

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