Why is racism not treated the same?

Published: 11/9/2020 1:36:45 PM

I’m writing about the lack of appropriate response by Frontier administration and the Union 38 superintendent after recent racist actions involving the FRSU community. Students were asked to view the film “I’m not Racist … Am I?” on GCTV this week. During the screening, a number of racist comments appeared in the chat feature, including the “n-word”, “who let the slaves out,” “racism no exist”, and “my name is charley the slave whipper.”

Active student bystanders spoke up in the chat, asking offenders to stop making racist comments, and teachers also told them to stop. The behavior continued.

Some students were so disturbed by the chat that they left the film screening, and many spoke to their parents afterwards about the incident. The next day, teachers and administrators addressed what happened, and students of color were invited into an affinity space, yet no public statement was made, and more importantly, no personalized, individual support was provided directly to students and families of color.

In early September, a Frontier School Committee meeting was Zoom-bombed with pornography. Within an hour, the superintendent released an appropriate and proactive response to the Union 38 community about the “utter disrespect and offensiveness” of the incident and offering counseling support to any children and families who needed it after observing the material.

The trauma of racism on adolescents is well documented, including in a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics on The Traumatic Impact of Racism and Discrimination on Young People. Students of color cannot feel safe returning to classrooms after words which carry the very real threat of physical violence are hurled at them in public spaces, by their peers. Pornography is considered so vile and disturbing as to warrant a public statement and the offer of counseling. Why is racism not treated the same?

Shawn Durrett

Educator, Union 38 parent, member of the Deerfield Inclusion Group, South Deerfield


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