Don’t you want to sound like a racist, Mountain Brook? Let educators, children learn beyond your fears
This is an opinion column.
“I don’t want to sound like a racist. “
That’s what the man said. This is how the Mountain stream resident responded to a request from my colleague, AL.com, and reporter for the Alabama Education Lab Rebecca Griesbach. She asked why he and the other citizens of the wealthiest, whitest city in the state didn’t want their names revealed or photographed last night. they showed up at a city council meeting and asked the city educators not take anti-bias training.
I don’t want to sound like a racist.
Alright, I’m downstairs. I despise labels. They are easy. They are lazy. They are simplistic.
People who don’t want to think – think, um, critically (wink) – use labels. People who don’t want to understand the root of someone’s actions or words, actions, and words they don’t agree with, use labels.
You are a (fill in the blank). It’s easier than listening, than getting down to work to understand the why of actions and words. And that’s silly.
So alright let’s take racist off the table, Mountain Brook. Or more specifically, let’s take it off the table for Mountain Brook 625 – the 625 people who signed this letter to the city’s school board worrying about the anti-bias training the board had launched for educators in the city. . Training initiated, in part, following an anti-Semitic incident in the city in May 2020 when a video surfaced showing a swastika on the back of a student.
I really think most Mountain Brook wants to do better. Wants to make sure the city is not affiliated with anti-Semitism. Or racism.
Then there are the 625 – who may not all have kids in Mountain Brook schools, according to some people outside of the 625. (If you don’t have kids in the system school, then, in my opinion, you won’t take a hit, or brandish a signature, in this fight.) They claim to defend “the fight against anti-Semitism and fanaticism,” according to the letter.
The 625 don’t want educators to take anti-bias training, one of them shared, because it “focuses too much on gender and race.”
It’s like saying, say, that nutritional advice focuses too much on food.
Oh, and the 625 really I don’t want the training provided by The Anti-Defamation League, a respected national organization that has been fighting anti-Semitism for 107 years and whose anti-prejudice training is used in hundreds of schools across the country, including 42 in Huntsville. Hundreds. In Huntsville. In Alabama
In the letter, the 625 accused: “The ADL website shows that its mission has extended to many other politically controversial areas and that the positions it has taken in these areas and the actions to promote such causes conflict with the sincere beliefs of many, many citizens of Mountain Brook.
ADL’s mission, to be honest, has not changed for decades. These are (as stated on its website):
Stop the defamation of the Jewish people and ensure justice and fair treatment for all.
Nothing “controversial” about it, at least not to any unbiased person.
As for those “politically controversial areas” that seem to sow fear in the hearts of the 625, I scoured the ADL website and easily found 25 topics the group has either revealed researches or published statements on.
Among them: racial and gender equity, religious freedom, bullying (cyber and other), immigrant rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and voter suppression.
All the topics swirl in the midst of national discourse on so many things – discourse that is not always comfortable, not always easy, lazy or simplistic. Like the labels.
625s should be less concerned with the “politically controversial areas” of an organization that has been committed to combating prejudice and injustice for more than a century than whether their children are educated, equipped and prepared to exhibit. their own and intrepid positions on the subjects.
So that no one, despite their position, pass them off as a racist.
Roy S. Johnson is a 2021 Pulitzer Prize finalist for comment. His column appears in The Birmingham News and AL.com, as well as in the Huntsville Times, the Mobile Register. Reach it at [email protected] and follow it to twitter.com/roysj