Black Lives Matter signs are barred in Alameda schools but anti-Semitism is no big thing. That was the take away from two stories last week that highlighted the troubling realities of the supposed idyllic hamlet of Alameda.
Yes, you heard that right, on the one hand there is a story about “Black Lives Matters” signs being barred from common areas in schools, and on the other one, a litany of bias incidents, which according to one of the victims’ fathers, the district is not taking seriously enough.
Alameda Unified has a serious problem with priorities, and it also has a serious problem with bias. When I googled the latest incident a whole string of hits came up from the last year, a noose at the high school, “Mr. Clean” being used to represent ethnic cleansing and being sent to Jewish students, hateful anti-Muslim flyers, and vandals breaking out windows in a synagogue, and if I dug, I am sure there would be more. These stories are not coincidental.
“Black Lives Matter” is controversial?
To me, and most rational people, a sticker or sign that says “Black Lives Matter” is a truism, it’s not denigrating anybody else’s lives, and it should not provoke controversy. I guess unless you disagree—a.k.a. Black lives don’t matter.
But in Alameda it seems things are different.
So here’s the story from the East Bay Times
a parent in the Alameda district, learned of the ban from another parent after officials removed Black Lives Matter signs from a common area at Maya Lin Elementary School, according to the ACLU.
Lewis contacted McPhetridge (the superintendent), who cited a school board policy that says “the superintendent, principal or designee shall not accept for distribution any materials or advertisements that … proselytize or position the district on any side of a controversial issue.”
Wonder if they will ban Dr. King’s birthday as a holiday next?
Some crackers find that controversial too.
But I digress.
I know this ban won’t hold up in court, and it definitively shouldn’t hold up in the court of public opinion, especially when you have real bias and culture issues that you should be addressing rather than these reactionary fake ones.
The district claims that ‘Everyone Belongs Here,’
As Black Lives Matter signs are removed, you have a seemingly hostile climate for racial and religious minorities that continues to rear its ugly head. While this study looks at older historical data, Alameda was the 8th most racist city in California based on Klan membership. So again let’s not whitewash this, Alameda has a history and that history is not dead.
From the latest incident involving a Jewish student,
An image of the advertising logo Mr. Clean in a Nazi uniform with “Mr. Ethnic Cleansing” added in bright red letters also appeared on the 14-year-old’s phone. Natasha, who is Jewish, was told in another text that Hitler’s biggest mistake was not killing her family. The texts were allegedly sent by fellow students.
The district claims that ‘Everyone Belongs Here,’ ” Waldorf (the father) said. “Yet everything about the way (McPhetridge) handled the threats against our daughter since he first learned about them — nine months ago — suggests that, to the contrary, Jew-hatred is quite acceptable and will be tolerated.”
The Children are watching
So Alameda, please get it together, removing signs that promote tolerance/social justice, while seemingly tolerating bias is a bad look, and it’s a bad act.
If our students see us standing up for what is right and modeling the world we want to see, they will follow. If they see us sitting silently, while undercurrents of bias continue to flow, they also get that message loud and clear, and they are watching when we take down Black Lives Matter signs.
Based on the history and continuing bias incidents in Alameda, we have a lot of work to do.
And none of it involves removing Black Lives Matters signs, in fact maybe why we need those signs in the first place should be part of the curriculum. That would be a lesson worth teaching, and one obviously sorely needed.