Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Let’s Talk

If you were concerned by the racist memes that recently took center stage in the Board of  Education race, you are not alone. If you have watched with alarm as racist dog whistles evolved into overtly racist language during the Redistricting process, you are not alone. 

Our teachers are watching.

You may have seen friends sharing this press release this week on Facebook.

On Monday, May 18, The Black Lives Matter at School 365 coalition, in partnership with the Anti-Racist Education Alliance, LLC, announced an opportunity for virtual space for Black educators to discuss how recent events have made an impact on their lives, and to discuss what steps can be taken moving forward. The Let’s Talk Event will be held on Wednesday, May 27th at 6 pm.

What does this mean? First, some background. The National Education Association EdJustice site says this about Black Lives Matter at School:

The goal of Black Lives Matter at School is to spark an ongoing movement of critical reflection and honest conversation in school communities for people of all ages to engage with issues of racial justice.


Black Lives Matter at School is a national movement that calls on all of us to have honest conversations about racist policies and practices that affect our students and schools. 

Right now we have people in our community publicly expressing racist views. We have people espousing the view that honest conversations about race are bad for students. We have people who deny that there are racist policies and practices that affect our students and schools. And some are explicitly vetting candidates to make sure they do not support Black Lives Matter at School.

How on earth would you feel as a Black educator in Howard County as public discussions swirl around you that compromise  your safety and that of your students? Yes, racism is hate speech and the growing acceptance of expressing it in public discourse makes our Black teachers and students less safe. It damages the educational environment, whether that is in a classroom, on Zoom, or on the Board of Education.

This event for Black educators is also a reminder for everyone of the goals of the Black Lives Matter at School movement:

  • End Zero Tolerance
  • Mandate Black History & Ethnic Studies
  • Hire more Black Teachers
  • Fund Counselors and Not Cops

It is also a clear call to Board of Education candidates that they have a responsibility to Black teachers, students, and families to educate themselves on issues of racial justice and to embrace, not run from, conversations about equity. Some candidates seem to think that equity is just a dirty word people use when they come for your housing values. They need to do way better than that if they want to serve our students.

piece entitled “Why the Black Lives Matter Movement is Vital for Us All”  released by the Caucus of Working Educators, pushes back on the notion that BLM is contrary to the work of the respected civil rights leaders of the 1960’s.

The constant rhetoric that believes that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not support the Black Lives Matter movement if he were alive today is very unaware of his teachings and writings. He wrote, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education,” along with, “All men are caught in an inescapable web of mutuality.” In other words none of us are free if one of us is not. 

I’m not interested in voting for anyone who doesn’t get that. 

As our Black educators open their own discussion about how recent events have made an impact on their lives, I encourage you to have your own discussions and examine closely which Board of Ed candidate is truly prepared to serve on behalf of all our children.

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