Elvis Slaughter, in a Public Comment submitted to the District 215 School Board at their June 23 meeting
Dear TFD215 School Board,
Change is coming!
A heartfelt thank-you to my fellow community members, board members, residents, students, and TFD215 staff for the disciplined, yet powerful, protests for George Floyd. Our community has shown how the Black Lives Matter movement is transforming the future for the better.
I am sharing a post from Twitter: “You cannot teach Black children and be silent about the injustice against them.” This scenario is déjà vu to all of us who faced discrimination all our lives, so we must stand up for change. For inspiration, I am sharing another quote by James Baldwin I discovered during my struggles: “I love America more than any other country in the world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
Actions speak louder than words. We must march on to achieve our shared dream. As in the past, I will speak at TFD215 school board meetings about the lack of equity and unfair hiring practices. The school board must do more than just promise, or deal with the deluge of appeals we will send to deal with nonperformance.
In true tradition, such as the movements against the Confederate flag in this great nation and the philosophy these events remind us about—weeding out hate and oppression—TFD215 must self-assess. Are we doing our part in eliminating injustice and systemic racism?
For many years, and today, TF South proudly honors the Confederate mascot, Richie the Rebel, by giving out awards yearly in his name, for instance. Although the practice was in humor, it offends African Americans with even the mention of his name. TFD215 school board members, teachers, union leader, staff members, and administrators were students or teachers during the Confederate flag and Richie the Rebel mascot removals. Saying they were unaware of the pain both caused to African Americans then and now is not helpful. The irony is that many TF South white students and staff became upset and enraged with racial hatred by the transformation.
Continuing forward, the school board must outlaw any semblances of the Confederate flag or Richie the Rebel on the school grounds. The school must also consider removing the word “Rebel,” (not “rebel”) as well because it is a haunting memory. Saying “Rebel Pride lives here” is almost as derogatory as saying “Richie the Rebel proudly lives here.” It is demoralizing for the community, and we must look forward to creating a better future.
Once again, thank you! We have a wonderful community. Your devotion and thoughtful concern for equality will inspire me and many others to come to work every day. My chest swells in pride for all the things we can accomplish together. Dear students, Generations Z, Y, and X, you are the future, and you must do your part to help humanity make progress. I feel so happy when I read stories in the media showcasing your efforts to help humanity make progress.
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“This scenario is déjà vu to all of us who faced discrimination all our lives”
I hope the writer realizes that discrimination is not limited to one “racial” group. Living in the predominate “black” areas of the South Suburbs the minority is not always black. In Harvey when I was young a “white” girl was gang raped. The assailants were not “white”.
It would be presumptuous to assume that this was a racially motivated crime. Those five young men may have just as likely raped a “black” woman in the same circumstance.
Crying racism and judging the motives of others does not help the conversation, it creates walls and barriers.
The intent of the user of a word or symbol is just as important as the perception by others. I said something like ” all the guys and gals are invited over to my house after church for a cookout” An older “black” woman told how the word gal is offensive, that it refers to a female slave used for sexual purposes. Out of respect I refrained from using this word, but could find few people of any background that shared her view point.
One can find racism wherever they look for it. It might be a slip knot on a rope used as a garage door pull or a statue of Lincoln with a grateful newly emancipated slave.
It would be well to heed the words of Thomas Sowell:
“Equating an absence of cosmic justice with villainy has become common in employment law as well. Companies whose employees do not statistically mirror the ethnic composition of the local labor force can be found guilty of “discrimination,” even if no one can find a single employee or job applicant who has been treated unfairly by having different rules or standards applied to his or her work or qualifications.
Do we as individuals and as a nation wish that others less fortunate had our blessings? We should and we do. But our blessings as a nation did not consist of having other nations give us foreign aid. The blessings of individuals who have achieved in life have seldom taken the form of having others accept mediocre performances from them or make excuses for their counterproductive behavior.
Almost as mushy as the quest for cosmic justice is the notion that the alternative is to “do nothing” about the gross disparities in prospects that are common around the world. There has never been a moment in the entire history of the United States when we have done nothing. There are innumerable things that still need to be done, but spreading confusion is not one of them.”
Not all Americans feel the same about the Confederate flag.
While removing it may be a good thing for the community, the truth is many do not see it as a symbol of racism.
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