It was an amazing moment at the School board meeting when the Teacher’s Union Rep. Ismael Armendariz refused to address a Black Woman by her title, “Vice President of the School Board,” and instead referred to her by her first name repeatedly, even after she corrected him. Misogyny and supremacy reared their heads, and as far as I know, the Union has been silent.
As Black folks we are too used to being called out of our names as a way to undermine our identity or accomplishments, to diminish us. And this sister was fighting for kids like Mr. Armendariz when he was still pissing in his pampers. So, I don’t know if its an issue of home training or latent and emerging isms, but Ish got some iss(ues) and they were on full display this week.
“Your Name is Toby”
It was jaw dropping, she corrected him and he insisted on calling her by her first name. It was some straight Kunta Kinte stuff—my “Name is Director Hinton Hodge.” Crack of the White Supremacist whip—”no its Toby.” “Director Hinton Hodge.” “Toby.”
And I believe he walked off laughing. Which if you are watching the news is another common technique to silence and dominate women.
I don’t know if everyone watching the exchange really got the significance of it. It was an attempt to break down a strong Black woman and undermine her in a public forum. I got it, I am sure she did (but is probably too F’ing used to it), and I know a lot of other Black folks did too, and I assume women.
I hear Mr. Armendariz a lot, speaking on behalf of the union, and have never heard him refuse to use the honorific title for other directors. If I am wrong please correct me and I will apologize.
Don’t think I am wrong, and I like many other observers know exactly what was happening.
Question is, did the Oakland Education Association get it, I believe they have a Black “leader” now. Did he see this? Is he going to lead? This was someone speaking officially for the organization playing into a cracker narrative that is all too common right now. And despite policy differences, most of us would agree that breaking the cycles of institutional sexism/racism is a shared goal. At least I assume so.
Let’s see what Mr. Armendariz and the Union do. Will they apologize in the same public forum where they disrespected Director Hinton-Hodge, or just be another cog in a familiar machine, playing a familiar narrative that Black folk have lived for centuries.