NAACP Culpeper #7058

Also Serving Madison and Rappahannock Counties

Tag: Racism

Dear Members of the Madison County School Board

August 1, 2022

To:
Karen Allen <kallen@madisonschools.k12.va.us>
Nita Collier <nitacollier@madisonschools.k12.va.us>
Damon Myers <dmyers@madisonschools.k12.va.us>
Charlie Sheads <csheads@madisonschools.k12.va.us>
Chris Wingate <cwingate@madisonschools.k12.va.us>

Cc:
Anna Graham <agraham@madisonschools.k12.va.us>
Cathy Jones <cjones@madisonschools.k12.va.us>

Dear Members of the Madison County School Board:

First, I believe it is important to state that the NAACP is neither conservative nor liberal, but welcomes all who advocate for social, economic, political, and educational justice.

We often hear about the need to be “colorblind.” This concept sounds promising on the surface; however, in too many instances colorblind means oblivious to the needs and concerns of people of color. Contemporary research in education suggests that the profession has long been geared toward what is termed as the mainstream and has not included much-needed diverse perspectives. We do not wish for a colorblind society but one that sees color and all other manners of diversity—appreciating all with equal concern.

Affirmative action was codified in recognition that despite what America aspired to be, additional measures were needed in order to live out our creed of equality. According to Fortune magazine, fewer than 1% of all Fortune 500 companies have a Black CEO. According to the US Census, Black unemployment is among the highest in the country. On-time graduation rates for Black students are also among the lowest in the country. Median income for Black households is lower than other subgroups while they account for a disproportionately high percentage of the prison population. We can chalk these numbers up to coincidence or even push the blame on others to avoid taking a hard look at the systemic realities that still exist in our country. Ignorance however, won’t make inequities any less true. Persons who believe that our country is now free of racist policies are indeed colorblind in the worst sense of the term.

Mr. Wingate is confident that school leadership will rightly fire any school employee practicing discrimination but what about board members who so flippantly practice discrimination, whether removing the perspective of people of color from textbooks or refusing to acknowledge the rights of children regarding sexual orientation and identity? How do we appropriately respond when incidents of racism show up on buses and in classrooms? This is precisely why equity education and true diversity are needed.

Students are best educated one individual at a time; we should ensure a holistic aggressive and effective fight against all bullying and encourage good citizenship…” Penned by Mr. Wingate, these are the tenets of social and emotional learning; instruction that has been proven to increase both the self-efficacy and academic achievement of students. Core to SEL is the premise that we must understand our differences and respect others’ differences in order to learn to coexist in a healthy manner with our differences.

Because of the misinformation surrounding this topic, the Culpeper NAACP is planning an open forum on education to be held in the next several weeks. We will offer a panel of noted educators to answer questions relating to diversity and equity in education. Please plan to attend this forum and ask all of your hard questions. We all care about our schools; let’s work together.

Sincerely,
Dr. Uzziah Harris
President, NAACP Culpeper

New Hampshire bill would require teachers to put a positive spin on slavery

Judd Legum
Dec 6

What is being promoted as an effort to stop Critical Race Theory (CRT) from indoctrinating K-12 students is actually a push to censure truthful information about American history. A new “teacher loyalty” bill introduced in New Hampshire would, among other things, prohibit “teaching that the United States was founded on racism.”

A reporter for WMUR, the ABC affiliate in New Hampshire, asked one of the bill’s sponsors, Representative Erica Layton (R), how a teacher could “address something like the Three-Fifths Compromise in the Constitution which basically invalidated the humanity of enslaved people who were black” if the new legislation became law. The reporter noted that’s a “racist aspect of America’s founding.”


Layton said that teachers should explain that the 3/5ths compromise was an effort to end slavery, which Layton said was “already on the way out.” The only problem with this solution is that it’s not true.

Scholars agree there is “no evidence the constitutional provision was intended to end slavery,” which persisted for nearly a century after the Constitution was ratified. It conferred additional political power to states with large slave populations. In so doing, it helped entrench the institution of slavery.

The same ahistorical argument was advanced by a lawmaker in Tennessee, Representative Justin Lafferty (R), earlier this year to support legislation banning CRT. The legislation is now law in Tennessee and, as Popular Information reported, is currently being invoked to try to prevent second graders from reading about Martin Luther King Jr.

Layton herself acknowledged her historical “errors” in answering questions from WMUR but continued to defend the bill:

The New Hampshire bill also prohibits “any doctrine or theory promoting a negative account or representation of the founding and history of the United States of America in New Hampshire public schools which does not include the worldwide context of now outdated and discouraged practices.” The primary sponsor of the bill Representative Alicia Lekas (R) told the Concord Monitor that this provision requires teachers to explain away slavery in the United States because it was ubiquitous worldwide:

Slavery was a terrible thing, but a lot of people don’t know slavery happened all over the world, that’s the setting you need to be teaching. If you’re going to teach about the founding of the country you need to teach it in its proper setting so you know what was happening in the rest of the world so you have a better idea of why people did the way they did.

This, again, is ahistorical. Long before slavery was abolished in the United States (1865), it was abolished in other countries, including Spain (1811), Mexico (1829), Britain (1834), and France (1848).

The ACLU of New Hampshire says the bill is “unconstitutional” and “builds on the disturbing trend…of erasing America’s legacy of racism and slavery.”

Teachers attempting to comply with the bill, should it become law, will be in a bind. If a teacher discusses the “worldwide context” of slavery on one day, can they discuss slavery in the United States without mentioning this context the next day? What about assigning a text that references slavery in the United States without including the “worldwide context”?

These are not trivial matters. According to the legislation, teachers who violate these provisions “shall be considered a violation of the New Hampshire code of ethics and code of conduct for educational professionals” and will be subject to “disciplinary sanctions.”

The opaque nature of the restrictions is really the point. The legislation is designed to chill honest discussion of American history in the classroom.

Putting teachers on a tightrope

The new bill builds on legislation that was enacted in New Hampshire over the summer prohibiting instruction on “divisive concepts.” The primary sponsor of that legislation, Representative Keith Ammon (R), is also a sponsor of the new “Teacher Loyalty” bill.

The law signed by Governor Chris Sununu (R) in June is more limited. It prohibits teaching “that one identified group” is “inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive.” In doing so, it likely bans discussion of “white privilege” and related concepts. The language in the bill is based on an executive order issued by Trump which banned the use of federal funds to support instruction on “divisive concepts.”

Such concepts are not currently part of New Hampshire’s K-12 curriculum. The New Hampshire Department of Education says the law does not prohibit “the teaching of historical subjects” or “the historical existence of ideas.”

Teachers in New Hampshire, however, are concerned about the difficulty in threading this needle. Teachers told New Hampshire Public Radio that “students are always making connections to current events” and “making sense of the past by talking about the present.” A teacher does not necessarily have the ability to prevent a discussion on historic discrimination from touching on the ways white privilege operates in society today.

Such a discussion could lead to a complaint filed against the teacher with the New Hampshire Commission for Human Rights or the New Hampshire Office of the Attorney General. A teacher found in violation of the law may face “disciplinary sanction by the state board of education.”

A dark money push

The push for anti-CRT legislation in New Hampshire is not happening in a vacuum. PEN America, a non-profit devoted to freedom of expression, has identified “54 separate bills” introduced in 24 states “intended to restrict teaching and training in K-12 schools, higher education, and state agencies and institutions.” PEN America describes these bills as “educational gag orders.” Ten of these bills have already become law.

Last week, a constellation of dark money groups released a public letter calling for more legislation in 2022.

This year, ten states passed legislation to reject CRT. In 2022, state lawmakers should continue to protect teachers and students from bigotry and consider proposals that reject the application of CRT in K-12 schools…

The letter called on states to pass laws banning “any idea that violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The Civil Rights Act of 1964, of course, does not ban ideas. It bans actual discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. Court rulings extended these protections to sexual orientation and gender identity. The anti-CRT movement is misrepresenting the meaning of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to suggest it bans certain kinds of discussions about racism and discrimination.

According to the signatories of the letter, “America should be defined as a nation that offers freedom and opportunity for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin.” In other words, teachers should be required to define America as a place where racism and discrimination are no longer a salient factor in people’s lives.

The letter was released by the Heritage Foundation and signed by representatives from the Manhattan Institute, the Claremont Institute, Parents Defending Education, the Goldwater Institute, and Independent Women’s Voice. One thing these institutions all have in common is that they do not disclose their donors.

And then there’s Alabama…

There are a number of museums that tell those stories spread across Alabama, but the Confederate Memorial Park is different. It is the only museum in the state that has a dedicated revenue stream codified in the state’s constitution. So while other museums struggle to keep their doors open, search for grants for funding and depend on volunteer staff, the Confederate Memorial Park is flush with cash. In 2020 alone, the park received $670,000 in taxpayer dollars. That’s about $22 per visitor and more than five times the $4 admission price for adults.

There are scattered mentions of slavery throughout the displays, but for the most part, the museum focuses on the story of Confederate soldiers on the battlefield, mostly highlighting the bravery they displayed and the principles they were fighting for. The exhibit quotes Confederates like E.S. Dargan, who said: “If the relation of master and slave be dissolved, and our slaves turned loose amongst us without restraint, they would either be destroyed by our own hands — the hands to which they look with confidence, for protection — or we ourselves would become demoralized and degraded.”

Alabama spends more than a half-million dollars a year on a Confederate memorial. Black historical sites struggle to keep their doors open.

MOUNTAIN CREEK, Ala. – Down a country road, past a collection of ramshackle mobile homes, sits a 102-acre “shrine to the honor of Alabama’s citizens of the Confederacy.” The state’s Confederate Memorial Park is a sprawling complex, home to a small museum and two well-manicured cemeteries with neat rows of headstones – that look a lot like those in Arlington National Cemetery – for hundreds of Confederate veterans.

Enough with playing it nice and safe in the fight against anti-Blackness.

It seems that a healthy handful of White folks wait to express their outrage and disgust over racial injustice after a highly publicized or sensationalized tragedy takes place. Often, after a new hashtag begins trending on social media, a variety of tweets and posts speaking out against anti-Blackness and anti-Black violence soon follow. Which, I suppose, is fine, but very few extend far beyond their comfort zone in their advocacy efforts. This is not to say that allyship in any form is not helpful, but it’s time to start being clear about what is needed and what ultimately perpetuates White supremacy and further insulates White guilt. Let’s be honest: to combat anti-Blackness in America, we don’t need allies. We need abolitionists.

We Don’t Need Allies, We Need Abolitionists

While following the Derek Chauvin trial, I’ve noticed one common theme that also struck me immediately following the gruesome killing of George Floyd – White people speaking out against racism after the fact. It seems that a healthy handful of White folks wait to express their outrage and disgust over racial injustice after a highly publicized or sensationalized tragedy takes place.

Tell Gov. Ralph Northam to Take Action Now!

#EndQualifiedImmunity

The Culpeper Branch #7058 stands in solidarity with the Isle of Wight Chapter and the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP in calling on Governor Ralph Northam to call a special legislative session to pass HB2045 sponsored by Del. Jeff Bourne. Local, state and federal officials must properly investigate this matter to the fullest extent, and propose a Plan of Action for the Town of Windsor and the Commonwealth of Virginia to immediately act on.

Tell Gov. Ralph Northam to Take Action Now!

George Floyd’s Autopsy and the Structural Gaslighting of America

The world was gaslit by misreporting about George Floyd’s initial autopsy report. As concerned physicians, we write to deconstruct the misinformation and condemn the ways this weaponization of medical language reinforced white supremacy at the torment of Black Americans.

 

Our Response

#WeAreDoneDying

The Mission of the Culpeper branch of the NAACP is the same as it is nationally, to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.

While we celebrate the victories of the past and continue, peacefully, to expand on those victories, we are reminded by the current events across the nation that there is much work to be done.

We must confess, we are tired of fighting the same fight, over and over.  However, we do not have the luxury of resting.  We must continue the pursuit of equality by eliminating the systemic racism that continues to be prevalent in our country.  We will not rest and pass the responsibility on yet to another generation.

Over the last few months, we have had to contend with the results of inequities in both healthcare and economics in our communities; and yet you hit us with another battle to fight.  We have had to contend with the brutality and humility perpetuated towards our community over-and-over again.  We will not be compelled to respond with knee-jerk reactions.  We are going to move forward together, methodically, with a well-planned movement.  This can only be achieved by including those of all creeds, colors, political and religious persuasions.  We will continue to work with our local leaders, including our law enforcement; to whom we have worked to build strong bridges.

We are not going to accept the spread of divisiveness promulgated by a few,  determine how we move forward.  We know our worth and the strength of our VOTE.  We have remained a non-partisan, peaceful organization, however, those who have made the decision to sit back and let our democracy continue to be crushed will be voted out in our continued pursuit of equality.  As Dr. King said, “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”   “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

To all the Ahmaud Arberys, George Floyds, and Breonna Taylors, our promise to you is that “We will not give up the fight for equality and justice.  Yes, we are tired, we are hurt, but while standing on the shoulders of those before us, we will never give up hope.  Our Faith will remain strong, and we will never be broken as long as we have breath in our bodies.”

In Solidarity,

Sandra Reaves-Yates, President
NAACP Culpeper Branch #7058

The COVID Contract

The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal; the racial contract limits this to white men with property. The law says murder is illegal; the racial contract says it’s fine for white people to chase and murder black people if they have decided that those black people scare them. “The terms of the Racial Contract,” Mills wrote, “mean that nonwhite subpersonhood is enshrined simultaneously with white personhood.”

Facial Recognition Technology is Targeting Black People

Facial recognition technology uses algorithms to replicate the racial bias in policing that has had life-threatening consequences for Black people and our communities. This invasive technology is racist and inaccurate, misidentifies women and people of color, and reinforces a system of oppression that surveils and targets Black people on baseless grounds, while also demonizing our physical appearance.1

Widespread use of this technology by law enforcement will lead to even more police encounters, wrongful arrests, harassment, and deportation. With error rates as high as 98%, facial recognition is one of the most dangerous forms of surveillance for our communities, and we must tell lawmakers to ban this technology.2

Protect our civil rights and tell your lawmakers to ban facial recognition.

 

 

  1. “Facial Recognition Software Prompts Privacy, Racism Concerns in Cities and States,” Pew Charitable Trusts, August 9, 2019, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/182660?t=10&akid=36279%2E1298081%2EE4-bJV
  2. “Facial-Recognition Software Inaccurate in 98% of Cases, Report Finds,” CNET, May 13, 2018, https://act.colorofchange.org/go/182661?t=12&akid=36279%2E1298081%2EE4-bJV

 

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