Archives for category: Racism

Yohuru Williams is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas in St.Paul, Minnesota. He is a noted scholar of Black history. And he also serves on the board of the Network for Public Education.

Dean Williams writes here about the activism for social justice in Minneapolis-St.Paul, inspired by the words of the late Congressman and civil rights icon, John Lewis.

Earlier this September, in Minneapolis and St. Paul, a brave collection of principals and assistant principals banded together to take on the issue of equity and justice in education.

Lewis’s letter, though directed at Black Lives Matter activists in particular, encourages all of us to find ways to get into “good trouble, necessary trouble,” in order to advance the goals of justice.
The members of the alliance, now 159 strong, have branded themselves the “good trouble” coalition after the mantra of the late Congressman John Lewis, who, before passing away in July, wrote a final letter that sought to inspire a passion for activism around racial injustice.

In his last months of life, Lewis lamented the dangerous and deadly state of affairs in the United States: persistent unjust police violence against African Americans, the failed governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and continued efforts to erode American democratic practice at the highest levels of government.

And Lewis’s letter, though directed at Black Lives Matter activists in particular, encourages all of us to find ways to get into “good trouble, necessary trouble,” in order to advance the goals of justice—especially in tackling the most urgent issues of racial inequality, climate change, mass incarceration, economic disparities, healthcare gaps, and political division.

He also invited young people to consider how they might transform the future through studying history as a means of understanding our enduring struggles to achieve lasting peace and equality.

It is ironic that Cong. Lewis urged young people to study history as a means to “lasting peace and equality,” even as Trump demands a reactionary revision of U.S. history to glorify its “leaders” (no doubt including the Confederates who rallied to preserve white supremacy) and diminish or remove the role of African Americans in that history.

John H. Jackson is president of the Schott Foundation for Public Education, one of the few philanthropies that unequivocally supports public schools. He writes here that Trump’s efforts to suppress the 1619 Project—a history of African Americans—is “unworthy of a democracy.”

More than that, the president has no business interfering in school curriculum. Federal law specifically prohibits any federal official from interfering with curriculum or instruction. In this case, Trump is openly appealing to his white suptemacist base, encouraging them to believe that he can prevent schools from teaching black history. He can’t and he shouldn’t.

Trump has been on a rant about teaching history, despite the fact that his own knowledge of American and world history is limited, possibly non-existent. He wants history to remain as it was taught in textbooks sixty years ago, when he was a student. This would be a white-centered, triumphal story of the American past, where the only blacks ever mentioned were George Washington Carver and (maybe) Booker T. Washington. White men did everything important, and everyone else was subservient and missing.

Like Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, Trump is outraged by the New York Times’ Pulitzer Prize-winning 1619 Project, which begins with the arrival of the first African slaves on the shores of what was eventually to become the United States. Senator Cotton has proposed withdrawing federal funds for the teaching of this revisionist view of American history.

Trump wants to go farther and threatens to withdraw federal funding from any school or district that teaches the history described in the 1619 Project. Trump and Attorney General Barr insist that there is no systemic racism in the United States.

Trump read a tweet warning that the schools of California were using the 1619 Project and he said the Department of Education would investigate and suspend federal funding if it were true. He undoubtedly doesn’t know that the State Board of Education in Texas approved an African-American studies course last April

Trump is abysmally ignorant and hopelessly racist. We already knew that. In addition, he is threatening to break the law. There is a federal law specifically prohibiting any interference by any federal official in curriculum or instruction in any school. As we know, Trump believes he is above the law and can do “whatever he wants.”But 20 USC 1232a prohibits “any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system…”

New York City’s vaunted Success Academy, which boasts the highest test scores in the state, the highest teacher turnover rate, and very likely the highest student attrition rate (unsure because unreleased by city authorities), has announced that it will be all-remote until at least January.

Success Academy is famed for its strict no-excuses policy and its readiness to eject any student who does not comply.

Problems, as the New York Daily News reports.

Under the plan, kids as young as 5 have to log on by 8:50 a.m. wearing their checkered orange and blue uniforms, and sit still with their hands clasped for nearly seven hours of live video instruction.

They also have to ask permission to use the bathroom — and can get a virtual boot and be suspended if they act up, which would turn off their cameras and microphones for a day or more.

“I don’t think it’s right for a 6-year-old … they have to sit there like a robot with their hands folded,” said one mom of a Success first-grader in Far Rockaway, Queens, who asked to remain anonymous because she fears retaliation from the school.

“Every day she cries and says she doesn’t want to go to school,” the frustrated mom told The News.

The article includes the news that Fabiola St. Hilaire, a teacher at Success Academy who sparked a controversy over racism at Success Academy last year, has resigned, saying she could no longer be complicit.

“Working for this organization has truly showed me that as long as I stand with the inaction and blatant disregard for child morality and healthy development it in turn will make me complicit, which I will never be,” she wrote in her resignation letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The News.

The National Education Policy Center posted this notification about #ScholarStrike, inviting higher education professionals to speak out together against racial violence and injustice. I joined. Will you?

Today and tomorrow, scholars at colleges across America will follow in the footsteps of the NBA, Major League Baseball and celebrities in speaking out against racial violence and unjust policing in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The effort, which is to include actions such as devoting class time to discussions of racial injustice, was started by a tweet from Anthea Butler, a professor of religious and Africana studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

“I would be down as a professor to follow the NBA and Strike for a few days to protest police violence in America,” Professor Butler wrote in her initial tweet.

The movement has since spread, via social media, to a diverse array of institutions and academic fields, including education. Although in-person demonstrations may occur, they may be impractical due to the pervasiveness of online learning.

The subjects of policing and race are particularly relevant to education scholars, given that the discriminatory law enforcement practices experienced by communities of color typically start in childhood and even occur within schools. “Systemic violence and disparate school discipline policies hinder equitable, just, and safe schooling,” according to Law and Order in School, an NEPC brief published in 2017 and authored by professors Janelle Scott, Michele Moses, Kara Finnigan, Tina Trujillo, and Darrell Jackson. “Research demonstrates that Black and Latinx students experience police violence and school discipline unequally,” the authors write. “Punitive educational and criminal justice policies disproportionately affect students, families, and communities of color, as well as the teachers and schools that serve them.”

Anticipating the current movement, the 2017 brief suggests addressing racially disparate school policing and discipline with such actions as redirecting funds for school police officers to expenditures such as guidance counseling, advanced and enrichment courses and other practices shown to “improve student engagement and social connectivity.”

For more information on #ScholarStrike, go to Butler’s Twitter profile.

NEPC resources on equity and social justice.

Trump and Barr have warned about the dangers of a group called “Antifa.” I had never heard of them and don’t know anyone who belongs to this group. I did a small amount of digging and learned that Antifa means “anti-fascist.”

That confused me. How can it be wrong to be anti-fascism?

Hitler and Mussolini were fascists.

We fought a world war from 1941-1945 to save the world from fascism.

During World War II, there were pro-fascist people in America.

The current American fascists are the Ku Klux Klan, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and armed militias like those that stormed the Michigan State Capitol to protest public health measures to protect against the spread of the coronavirus. Fascists threaten their fellow citizens with military-type assault weapons. Fascists use extra-legal means to subvert the rule of law and to intimidate people of color and those who oppose them. Fascists want to make America a white a Christian nation where none is welcome who is either white nor Christian.

I oppose fascism. I support the efforts to suppress fascism.

I support the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. I believe in democracy and the rule of law. I believe in equal justice under law for all. I believe in pursuing the goal of equality of educational opportunity. I know we are far from our ideals and values. I believe in pursuing them, not abandoning them.

I am a proud anti-fascist.

Are you?

Today is an important day in the history of education in the United States. Federal courts had ordered the schools of Little Rock to admit nine black students. Crowds of white supremacists gathered to block their entry. On this day, Governor Orval Faunus called up the National Guard to prevent the black students from entering Little Rock’s Central High School.

From Garrison Keillor’s “The Writers’ Almanac”:

It was on this day in 1957 that Arkansas governor Orval Faubus called out the National Guard to bar nine black students from entering Central High School in Little Rock. In response, President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in the 101st Airborne Division to make sure they could enroll. A few days later, Eisenhower made a prime-time, live televised speech to the nation in which he said, “Mob rule cannot be allowed to override the decisions of our courts.

President Eisenhower proceeded to nationalize the Arkansas National Guard and directed them to protect the nine black students.

From Wikipedia:

By 1957, the NAACP had registered nine black students to attend the previously all-white Little Rock Central High, selected on the criteria of excellent grades and attendance.[2] Called the “Little Rock Nine”, they were Ernest Green (b. 1941), Elizabeth Eckford (b. 1941), Jefferson Thomas (1942–2010), Terrence Roberts (b. 1941), Carlotta Walls LaNier (b. 1942), Minnijean Brown (b. 1941), Gloria Ray Karlmark (b. 1942), Thelma Mothershed (b. 1940), and Melba Pattillo Beals (b. 1941). Ernest Green was the first African American to graduate from Central High School.

When integration began in September 4, 1957, the Arkansas National Guard was called in to “preserve the peace”. Originally at orders of the governor, they were meant to prevent the black students from entering due to claims that there was “imminent danger of tumult, riot and breach of peace” at the integration. However, President Eisenhower issued Executive order 10730, which federalized the Arkansas National Guard and ordered them to support the integration on September 23 of that year, after which they protected the African American students.

The students endured mobs of hateful whites, screaming at them and shouting curses and insults.

White racists soon realized they had lost in the courts, but got their wishes by abandoning public schools and moving to the suburbs.

In time, the Little Rock School District became majority black. Now it is under state control, a fate that is often imposed on majority nonwhite districts, crippling local control and removing a path to political power for those who are not white.

Little Rock will forever be a symbol of white racism and of the courage and political will required to combat racism.

I was there with my husband Richard. Dick was a close friend of Bayard Rustin, one of the day’s organizers. We took the train To Washington. We met with Dick’s law school classmate, Clifford Alexander, who was Secretary of the Army in LBJ’s administration. (Cliff was the father of Michelle Alexander, who later became a celebrated writer.) I was eager to join the march. Dick and I left Cliff in his Office, and we went to the march, to mingle with the hundreds of thousands assembled peaceably on the Mall. It was a thrilling experience, organized by A. Philip Randolph and many labor unions, who supplied money, workers, buses, and organizers.

On this day in 1963, more than 200,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C., for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, now known as the March on Washington. The march was the brainchild of civil rights activists A. Philip Randolph and Bayard Rustin, who once said, “We need, in every community, a group of angelic troublemakers.” They worked diligently for nearly two years, convincing members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference to put aside their differences and participate.

The president of the United States, John F. Kennedy, needed support for the passage of his Civil Rights Act, and gave his approval, as long as there would be no violence. Two days of protests, speeches, and sit-ins were planned. On August 27, thousands of people began pouring into the city. They came by bus, train, and air from Milwaukee, St. Louis, Birmingham, California, with water jugs and picnic baskets and Bibles. Chicago and New York declared August 28 “Freedom Day” and gave workers the day off. The city of Washington, D.C., banned liquor sales for the first time since Prohibition, hospitals stocked blood plasma and canceled elective surgeries, and the Pentagon amassed 19,000 troops in the suburbs, just in case things got violent.

There was not one single arrest, and no violence. Marchers linked hands, they sang, and they chanted all the way from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, where the 16th speaker of the day, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., began what would become one of the greatest speeches in history with, “I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.”

This past June, half a million protestors were in the streets in multiple cities on a single day in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by police.

Kellyanne Conway has been a bulldog for Trump. She recently announced that she was leaving her job to take care of her family. Her husband George, a co-founder of the Lincoln Project, is stepping back from his work there but said on Twitter that he supports its efforts, “Passionately.”

The apparent cause of the Conway withdrawals from politics is their daughter Claudia, who has been posting her disgust with Trump and both parents on social media. Claudia supports Black Lives Matter and according to reports, sent a tweet to AOC asking her to adopt Claudia.

George Conway explains in this video clip why he turned against Trump.

How could these two with polar opposite views of the most polarizing figure in the U.S. live under the same roof. Their children May be suffering. Or is Kellyanne a double agent? Could she be Anonymous?

Get ready for a vicious campaign. It has already started.

Trump, a man with no discernible religion, recently said that Biden, a faithful Catholic, will:

“Take away your guns, take away your Second Amendment. No religion, no anything. Hurt the Bible. Hurt God. He’s against God. He’s against guns. He’s against energy, our kind of energy.”

Now that Biden has chosen Kamala Harris as his vice-presidential candidate, the bigots are targeting her, and it will only get worse.

Trumpers say that she isn’t really black, because her mother was born in India. (She is half-black, half-South Asian).

They say she did not descend from American slaves, which is true. She descended from African slaves in Jamaica, on her father’s side.

They say that she isn’t really African American because her father was born in Jamaica. (On Twitter, someone asked, “Where do they think that black people in Jamaica came from?”).

Some claim that she can never be president because both her parents were immigrants. (Not true. She was born in Oakland, California, and native-born citizenship and the age of 35 is all the Constitution requires.)

Then comes the claim that her ancestors were slave owners, based on her father having written that he was descended from a slave owner in Jamaica. (Snopes judged thisa year ago to be “unproven,” but also notes that if she does have a lineage linked to a white Jamaican slave owner, it would likely be because he raped or cohabited with one of his slaves.)

On this blog, a Trumper dropped by yesterday morning to say that Harris is “unqualified” and to call her “an affirmative action hire.” Harris graduated from Howard University and earned her law degre from the University of California Hastings College of Law at San Francisco. Both of her parents earned Ph.D. degrees and were successful professionals. Harris was elected District Attorney of San Francisco, State Attorney General of California, and a U.S. Senator. Harris is highly qualified to be on Joe Biden’s ticket. Her qualifications are far superior to those of Trump and Pence. I judge the slur to be racist, sexist trash.

Expect more of the same from the flailing Trump camp.