Stop the Madness!

Stop the Madness!

Many years ago, I went to Potomac School in McLean Virginia. It was and is a fine private school. I left after 2nd grade and later I sent my three young children there. We soon moved out to The Plains VA and left the DC area. My interactions with Potomac have been slight and I never kept up with the school. But they have me on their list of alumnae. That is why I received an email today about a couple of new positions at the school.
“Director of Equity and Community Initiatives, Director of Student Diversity Recruitment and Retention,” and it struck me that I must write something about this. It is so wrong. It is so racist. And they think it is helping. But the only thing it is helping is the conscience of the school. It is not helpful to the students who are immediately considered victims. Otherwise, they would not need these special people looking out for them.

They say this is “to help advance Potomac’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.” They are already included. They are students at the school.
The letter goes on and on saying: “This is a challenging time for our country and for the communities of which we are all a part. It is incumbent upon us to hear and heed the voices raised in opposition to racism and injustice.”

But the injustice is over. 75 years ago things were still bad. A half-century ago, though improving more was needed. Now there is nothing that is not open to black students in school and for the rest of their lives. We have lawyers, doctors, judges including Supreme Court Justices, we even had a black President. There is nothing closed to anyone due to race. Nothing.

The letter upset me so much that I sat down to write back to them. My first sentence says it all.

“I wonder if you all are aware of how racist this is?”

This is what I believe.

The only way to stop people focusing on race is to stop talking about it, and for God’s sake stop making ‘Black only’ groups or initiatives. Educate the people who are disadvantaged in every ethnic group. Teach them that it is NOT OK to have babies out of wedlock (That is number ONE)Teach them it is not OK to act like a wild thing, to dress, or tattoo or use bodily modification in ways that assault others’ sensibilities.

Stop treating minorities like babies.
Start expecting them to perform up to a standard and do not give anyone a participation trophy ever.

You don’t see Asians being assaulted by police.

You don’t see Japanese boys walking down the street with their underwear and bottoms showing.

People treat others differently when they are different. Face it. Be honest. I am so fed up with Political Correctness and walking on eggshells around groups such as Black people or Muslims.

If some poor person (any race) from a “project” or trailer park, or living on the streets, wants to get ahead no one should tell them they are acting “white” if they try to better themselves. If they have initiative enough to become educated and learn to speak, act, and dress properly and learn about manners we cheer them on. At least I do.


This is true for black, white, or purple people.

Potomac is well-positioned to be a leader in helping all students improve their lives. Why not take that opportunity. Instead, you are doing the exact opposite of helping them.
You are treating them as victims.  They are NOT. They are privileged because everyone is bending over backward to help them (and to appear compassionate and fair, because people are hypocrites)
This country used to be segregated. It no longer is. So stop perpetuating racism by pretending to give these ungrateful wretches a voice.  They have EVERY opportunity. There are no doors closed to black people today.  All this whining is ridiculous.

It reminds me of when I was a little girl in the 40s and old people used to say “Those Darkies! If you give them an inch they take a yard!” Don’t prove them right.

We have changed all the laws.  Most were changed more than a half-century ago. There are no impediments to black success except their own lack of ambition or willingness to learn.  You do not need a special Director of Equity or student diversity. That is racist.  Just get along and treat everyone the same. NEVER single a group out and tell them they are victims.

They are all in school in a very special place. They need to be challenged more than nurtured.  They need to compete not languish on the sidelines as spectators.

Can’t you see the harm you are doing by perpetuating this myth of inferiority? Stop it at once!

Copyright©. 2020 Bonnie B. Matheson

19 thoughts on “Stop the Madness!

  1. Oh Bonnie, this is so very true. Thank you for speaking out. People are so afraid to say what they think for fear of being blasted and bullied. Sad times!

  2. Spot on! Well said Bonnie. I’m very proud of you for voicing the truth to the school. The acts of “hand outs and special privileges” MUST STOP NOW.

  3. Wow. And you are the very reason that this work is needed. You’re right when you say “this is so racist”, but it’s your thoughts and words, not the efforts to be inclusive.

    You don’t see white kids with their boxers hanging out because you don’t SEE white kids as problems. I see kids with their boxers hanging out all the time and it crosses skin color. That Asians are assaulted less by the police speaks exactly to the implicit or explicit bias that is the root of the problem.

    The laws might be changed, but that doesn’t change the behavior and the thoughts, as your post so demonstrates.

    Find an implicit bias test and take it. You are White Privilege and you have a lot of learning to do. As we all do.

    1. I want to answer you fairly. But it is difficult for me to express my point of view to someone so firmly aligned against me. It is not the laws that need to be changed. They are in place. There are also “rules” of conduct. If people (any people) refuse to comply with those rules they opt out of the culture which hires people and treats them with respect. Language matters, cleanliness matters, and attitude matters. But teaching young people that they are victims of society, or “white privilege” is like shooting them in the foot. It cripples them. There are no barriers to success. NONE. It is a mindset. And schools or random people who teach this attitude of victimhood are doing irreperable harm. Not just a little bit of harm, but hampering them for a lifetime. Blaming other people, for noticing the behavior of people who act in ways that are violent or anti-social or simply disrespectful is not helpful. Teach proper behavior. That would have an amazing effect on their lives.

  4. Your privilege runs so deep you can’t see beyond it. Your prejudice so pervasive it’s ingrained within you. Cocooned in your whiteness, truly unaware of lives not your own, you are so far beyond wrong it is difficult to address it all. And, unfortunately, you have children who, unless they get very lucky, will perpetuate what you believe. Get a few books and read them.
    I am a white woman, not a kid, and I’ve seen people like you all my life. While you’re still breathing, you have a chance to learn, take it.

  5. If racism is over in America, why are unarmed black people so often shot by the police? If racism is over, why don’t the tattooed, pants hanging down white boys get arrested and shot in equal numbers to the black? I would respectfully ask that you consider that you/we are swimming in a sea of racist attitudes and actions so much so that we (white folks) can’t even see it much of the time and get confused, as you seem to be, that everything is fine, and opportunities are completely equal.

    1. Mary Mandeville unarmed black men are not shot by police “so often”. It does happen, but it is NOT happening daily. However Black men shoot each other every day. That is violence at a higher rate for blacks shot by their own. More white men are shot by police than black ones.
      Opportunities are not equal. That is because opportunities are not equal for anyone. Life is not fair. Don’t be confused by “life” and blame it on racism. The fact is that people are NOT discriminated against for their race but for their actions. That happens. That is the reason for stressing the importance of education. Education should include the proper way to dress or the manners to use to be considered educated.
      The opportunities are there. It is the attitude of some people which is keeping them from being treated as a safe and civilized person. This goes for ALL colors. It is NOT a black thing.

  6. “There are no barriers to success. NONE.”

    Bonnie. This is nonsense. You are living in the cloud of the American dream—which is not reality.

  7. Bonnie,
    Here are a few impediments to black lives in the US:
    Black people are 2.5-6.5 times more likely to be killed by a police officer, the number changes depending on where they live.
    Black women are 10 times more likely to die in childbirth at a hospital than white women.
    Until the Federal Housing Act of 1968, CCRs forbid white homeowners and real estate agents from selling homes to black people in white neighborhoods. You and I both know that real estate agents are invented to “keep property values up,” by keeping the so-called wrong people out.

    The list can go on. The result is that even black students who end up at a fine school like the potomac school have fears that white people typically don’t see or understand. I went to Andover. Last week I was on the phone with a black classmate of mine who attended Columbia after Andover. This well-educated, law-abiding black man has had a gun pointed at his head, the shooting end of the pistol at his temple, by the police three times in his life. For doing nothing. For being black while driving. Being black while walking down the street at night.

    This is an impediment to black life.

    1. Cristina, Those numbers are debatable but I contend that if people are not doing something suspicious they are not likely to be shot. (There are bad cops out there, of course, but there are bad people of every type).
      The rate of black women dying in Childbirth is a terrible thing. But maybe you don’t realize that the rate of all women dying in childbirth is very high in the USA.We number 30 something in the world right before Cuba, I believe. They are terrorized by hospitals and doctors into allowing the various interventions which US Doctors insist on using for birthing mothers. I hate our system and have been working for 20 years to change that.
      Don’t tell me about laws that were changed in 1968. That is the point. The laws were changed. 50 years ago. There were a lot more laws in those days that restricted what people could do. For instance, women were not allowed to have a credit card without a man signing off on it. ALL women, not black women.
      IN the succeeding half century certain black people have made great strides. They have achieved super success. Why have so many not managed to fulfill their promise? I blame the welfare system, the Democrats who want to keep the black people down and dependent on them.

  8. You have clearly put a lot of time and energy into this post and it is shocking just how VERY WRONG YOU ARE. Your ignorance and lack of insight and empathy is what is truly wrong with this country right now. What if we turned the tables and said women got the vote over a century ago? We did- but we are still fighting for equal pay. Our fight continues and so does the fight of African Americans in 2020 USA. Just because something is passed into law, doesn’t mean the problem is solved. I could fill this comment box with proof that racism is alive and thriving in America but I fear you are too old, too entrenched in your views, and want to believe your own bull-crap too much listen to reason.

  9. It is fascinating to see you reference “the myth of inferiority” while simultaneously characterizing Black people as “ungrateful wretches” who dress, walk, speak, learn, and strive in ways that don’t meet your standards, which I gather you believe to be *the* universal standards. Are there special exercises I can do to become as skilled a cultural contortionist as you are? Please advise.

  10. Dear Bonnie,

    You sound incredibly frustrated and seem to have given this a lot of thought in terms of how we should define privilege and fairness. I have no reason to doubt your earnest attempts to understand how people could hold a worldview so diametrically opposed to yours. Perhaps you feel as if you are living in a parallel reality where some people see your perspective clearly and others unfairly think you are intentionally racist for seemingly no reason you can fathom. If you are interested in bridging this cognitive and social divide and learning some tools with which you can better engage in this large and crucial national conversation, I invite you to read two books that have been immeasurably helpful to me: 1) “How to Be an Anti-Racist” by Dr. Ibram X Kendi, and 2) “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. I openly admit that at first I had a negative reaction towards the terminology “White Fragility” which kept me from reading this book for some time. But both books have helped me understand the current narrative and given me a framework in which I can best understand real issues at hand that affect everyone in America, albeit in vastly different ways. You don’t have to agree with everything each author posits, but both books have given me a solid framework in which to better understand and consciously work through the challenges which our society is currently being asked to address. This is simply a recommendation, because they have helped me in my lifelong journey towards understanding. Regardless of whether you take my suggestion, I wish you hope and learning in your journey.

  11. Richard Husser’s Response to Stop The Madness 7/11/2020

    Bonnie,

    I’m going to address your post as thoroughly as possible, time being my only limiting factor. You only have one dissenting comment under your post titled “Stop The Madness”. You responded to the comment of “M Johnston” by stating in part: “…But it is difficult for me to express my point of view to someone so firmly aligned against me.”

    I oppose your view and will outline details for consideration. I am not aligned against you as I don’t know you, so my comments will stay squarely focused on the information you provide and your argument not you. I do hope my comment gets posted for public view.

    Your argument is not a new one, and I hope my response will allow you to consider how your argument perpetuates a narrative that leaves out a lot of facts and supports a racist system of injustice and does not hold accountable those who perpetuate injustices.

    You begin your post by stating that the private school you and your children attended, The Potomac School in McLean Virginia, posted two positions: “Director of Equity and Community Initiatives” and “Director of Student Diversity Recruitment and Retention”. You then posited that:
    “It is so wrong. It is so racist. And they think it is helping. But the only thing it is helping is the conscience of the school. It is not helpful to the students who are immediately considered victims. Otherwise, they would not need these special people looking out for them.”

    Equity and community initiatives and diversity recruitment and retention are broad categories. To address your statement that the positions are racist, I’m going to lay out definitions so we are defining the terms the same for this exchange before specifically addressing your statements and moving on to other parts of your post. And why would this be helping the conscience of the school while being racist if there was not merit in what the school is doing?

    All definitions are from the Oxford English Dictionary, online edition, today’s date: July 11, 2020.

    Diversity: “The condition or quality of being diverse, different, or varied; difference, unlikeness.”

    There is no mention of race in that definition. Diversity includes multiple categories of difference. Difference can be defined in different ways depending on your lens and focus, from differences within the school body, to the difference within the county, state, and the nation. Race, which is a constructed category, as opposed to culture and ethnicity- which are also possibilities for lending diversity- is only one possible element of diversity. If the student body is less than 50% female, being a girl lends more diversity. Likewise, if there is discrimination and bullying- which there invariably will be- individuals in these position can address these issues. The positions will tackle a broad range of issues limited only by the creativity of the people in these positions and the restrictions from the school. Neuro-diversity, minorities- which could be defined in multiple ways, religious diversity and those who are atheists- if allowed in this private school, socio-economic background, those students with disabilities, just to name a few categories, are all possible categories of diversity. The types of questions people in these positions could address are: Is our student body reflective of our communities? Is our curriculum preparing our students to understand the complexities of society in the 21st Century in a fair and equitable way?

    So my question to you Bonnie is why did you only focus on race?

    Race is a construct as is clear from this OED entry on race below.

    Race, n, 6, I, 1, d: “According to various more or less formal attempted systems of classification: any of the (putative) major groupings of mankind, usually defined in terms of distinct physical features or shared ethnicity, and sometimes (more controversially) considered to encompass common biological or genetic characteristics.In early use usually applied to groups of people with obviously distinct physical characteristics such as skin colour, etc. An influential early system was that of J. F. Blumenbach De Generis Humani Varietati Nativa (1775), which, on the basis of skin colour and conformation of the head, divided the human species into five races, the American, Caucasian, Ethiopian, Malay, and Mongolian, and assigned them qualitative ranking. A similar division into six was proposed by Goldsmith (cf. quot. 1774). In particular contexts (e.g. former European colonies or areas of the United States) adherents of a theory of race have frequently applied only a simple two-term distinction (such as ‘black’ and ‘white’).Now often used more generally to denote groups of different cultural or ethnic origin (esp. as forming part of a larger national community), in which context it frequently overlaps with, and can be difficult to distinguish from, senses 1b and 1c; examples have been placed at this sense where distinct physical features play an important role in how race is conceptualized. In recent years, the associations of race with the ideologies and theories that grew out of the work of 19th-cent. anthropologists and physiologists have led to the word often being avoided with reference to specific ethnic groups. Although it is still used in general contexts, it is now often replaced by terms such as people(s), community, etc.Cf. also note at racial adj. 2 on changing perceptions of racial identity.”

    Defining race is important here because it is the focus of your post. We continue to have conversations in this country without defining terms when we have discussions. One of the things you left out in your post is any mention of the ways race has been capitalized on by white people to further divide this country and prevent people of color from advancing in society. Politically race is and has been used as a weapon. The people you mentioned rising in the ranks are the exceptions despite racist policies that prevent equity. Bonnie, you say you want to stop talking about race, but white people started the differentiation of people by “race”, starting over 400 years ago and continues today in dangerous and disparaging ways. Denying that only advances racist ideas and allows racists and white supremacists from being held accountable. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that this is an unintended consequence of your post. What you cannot do is declare that racism is over until people affected by racism declare racism is over.

    Race is used to differentiate people then assign an order of hierarchy which is neither scientific nor ethical. People are lumped together and considered “other” and dehumanized based on the color of their skin. This is happening today based on the history of racism and the policies that prevent advancement. There are multiple examples today of how racism exists today despite advances in the laws from the 1960’s. Policies are what govern day to day actions, and there are many policies that disenfranchise voters and discriminate in multiple areas of society including housing, bank loans, healthcare, education to name just a few crucial areas necessary for advancement in society. Policies since LBJ, including both Democrats and Republicans, have created enormous problems for advancement in society such as the school to for-profit prison system pipeline. The gulf of inequality between the wealthy and the poor is the largest in the history of this country and growing. Addressing issues of racism in this country can only help benefit all citizens, not just those discriminated against, because we will address inequities and unjust policies along the way which affect all citizens. I’ll provide some resources at the end of my comments. Facts are important here. Saying there is no problem doesn’t mean there’s not a problem.

    Racism: “A belief that one’s own racial or ethnic group is superior, or that other such groups represent a threat to one’s cultural identity, racial integrity, or economic well-being; (also) a belief that the members of different racial or ethnic groups possess specific characteristics, abilities, or qualities, which can be compared and evaluated. Hence: prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against people of other racial or ethnic groups (or, more widely, of other nationalities), esp. based on such beliefs. Cf. racialism n.”

    The evidence of racism against Black people and people of color in this country is far and wide and documented in great detail in books, newspaper articles, and cannot be denied as occurring today. For you to deny racism which daily hinders the progress of Black people by harming them in physical and psychological ways while denying their humanity is omitting facts which you don’t have to face because you have never had to face discrimination because of the color of your skin. I believe white people are scared that Black people will do to them what white people did to Black people, and there is no evidence for this. People are tired and want equity and freedom and a life of love and family not revenge. A most often seen word in the text of Black intellectuals is “love”. Don’t take my word for it. Google “Love and Maya Angelou” or “Love and Cornel West” or “Love and James Baldwin”. I’ve heard more Black intellectuals talk about their white brothers and sisters in poverty and how to address the problem than I’ve heard white intellectuals talk about poverty. That’s because empathy is strong and comes from hardship that Black US Citizens have faced. On the other hand, greed and power in the white political communities allows them to ignore those less fortunate. Look at politics today and this is evident. There are many issues that we as a nation have the power to address more than any nation such as healthcare, education, poverty, racism, and we are far behind many other developing nations with fewer means.

    Let’s take one example: being a Black man, as just one example, in America, affords one to be subject to racism simply for walking down the street, birding in Central Park, or simply having coffee at a local coffee shop. By simply existing, Black males in this country are discriminated against based on just existing until they “prove” they are assimilated, and as you say “behave” and can “speak well”. This is flagrantly racist. There are daily examples and historical examples of racism great and small which are well documented and, if you look, will be in today’s paper, tomorrow’s paper. There’s no end in sight if it is not addressed. There are also multiple documentaries on ongoing racism.

    By saying that Black people are not trying hard enough is not only offensive but not true. The obstacles in the way are often simply the denial that there is systemic racism. I implore you to seek out films and books and poetry and visual and performing art that explains from first person accounts how a large portion of Americans are abused every single day. Despite this you do see Black astronauts, doctors, and so on. That’s not the issue. And for you to say that simply by “acting” in a certain way all will be ok and Black people can succeed is to overlook the obstacles perpetuated by policies and laws and attitudes and stereotypes of white people. Black people, indigenous people, and other people of color are our fellow Americans and fellow humans who have the right to the same freedoms as any other American. The reality is they do not have the same freedoms in this country. I don’t expect to change your mind with my response. My hope is that you will consider your ideas in a larger context of the facts and the daily lives of your fellow Americans who are abused daily and not looked upon as human. Having high standards is fine as long as the system of laws and policies are applied equally.

    I’d like to know how you are defining race, because based on the OED denotation, by definition, having job positions on equity and diversity cannot be racist. Based on this definition, how can addressing inequality and diversity, as I broadly outlined above to include more than race, be racist?

    This isn’t a zero sum game. More fairness for everyone doesn’t mean less opportunities or freedom for white people. It also does not mean the standards get lowered. We’re talking about human rights in which the inequity is hidden in plain sight from white people because white people are not subject to the same inequities simply for the color of their skin.

    Addressing race and increasing dialogue and understanding can only help in advancing equity for all citizens.

    Equity: “The quality of being equal or fair; fairness, impartiality; even-handed dealing.” There are multiple definitions of equity that are relevant here including application of the law. It is important to consider the difference between equity and equality. I will confine my argument to this definition of equity.

    There are lots of examples today of society not being equitable. We’re not talking about giving people an advantage. We’re talking about fair treatment in our laws, policies, and social practices to allow equal opportunities and freedoms: applying the law equally for all citizens. This is not happening, and again there are plenty of examples out there. At the heart of equity is defining examples today of inequity. This means hearing from people who are experiencing racism and racist policies. The personal narratives are important. Bonnie, you are not taking into consideration personal narratives of others, only your own narrative and that which was handed down from you through generations which I will address later by responding to another quote from your post.

    “Special People”: Bonnie, you refer to the people in the proposed positions as “special people”, and I’ve addressed above the multiple, but not exhaustive, reasons why the equity and diversity positions are necessary.

    Assimilate: “To make or be like.” Throughout the history of this country for 400 years, we know that “assimilate” has meant to act white. Whiteness is not a thing. Whiteness is an ever changing restricted definition of whatever the white people in power choose it to be. Standards and principles and ethics are not exclusive to white people. If you reread your posting Bonnie with what I’ve just said in mind, I think you will find that your implied definition of assimilating to whiteness is in itself an inherent bias that you clearly articulate. This is the problem with assimilation. Here’s just one example: the policing of how Black people wear their hair. Black people have hair that is different and worn in ways that in no way is disruptive. But if a White woman wears the exact same hairstyle, like Bo Derek in the film “10”, then it is lauded as beautiful. Just this past school year in the middle of the school year a Black child was asked to change their hairstyle when the rules did not specifically say that. There was a lawsuit. This isn’t a small matter and there are other examples of how policing Black people’s every move and dress can lead to indignities foisted on people all the way to death in the case of profiling. There was a professor, a Black man, walking down the street last winter with a beanie on, dark glasses, and a jacket, and a police officer stopped the man and was going to see to it that the woman who filed the complaint identify on the street if he was the perpetrator they were looking for; fortunately one officer let the professor go, but guess what?: the professor’s day was ruined as he was visibly shaken and near tears because he knew he could be thrown in jail or killed for simply walking down the street to lunch dressed like a lot of white people- fully “assimilated”. Where’s the equity in that? This isn’t an isolated incident. This is every day. Those are life and death situations Black men especially deal with when born. Parents of Black children have to have “The Talk” with their children to inform them of the dangers they face. Notice I didn’t say “Black parents”, because this needs to happen for all Black children. White parents of Black Children or mixed skin color often don’t even know about the talk and have to educate themselves. Parents of White children don’t have to have this talk. This is privilege.

    Privilege: “a. transitive. To grant a privilege, right, or immunity to; to invest (a place, establishment, etc.) with a special distinction, licence, or legal power; to treat with special benefit or favour; to permit (a person) to do something as a privilege or favour. In later use frequently in passive.”

    There are a lot of books and articles written on white privilege. That you don’t think it exists is not surprising because there are plenty of white people who benefit from being white. In simple terms we all have hardships in life, but the color of my skin or your skin Bonnie in this country is not one of them because we are both white. This isn’t an excuse to coddle other people. This is a reality that must be acknowledged and dismantled. We can only do that by discussing it and exploring ways to dismantle it as individuals and as a society and throughout our institutions. White people brought this on themselves, and we must be part of the fight to dismantle racism and the arrogance and dangerous idea that white is the way. Our fellow humans are killed, discriminated against, and looked upon as less than human because of the color of their skin. This must be ended.
    _______

    Bonnie you wrote, (I left the order and condensed the paragraphs): “But the injustice is over. 75 years ago things were still bad. A half-century ago, though improving more was needed. Now there is nothing that is not open to black students in school and for the rest of their lives. We have lawyers, doctors, judges including Supreme Court Justices, we even had a black President. There is nothing closed to anyone due to race. Nothing. The letter upset me so much that I sat down to write back to them. My first sentence says it all. I wonder if you all are aware of how racist this is?”
    You don’t mention the evidence that in fact there are hindrances to progress for Black students. Black people becoming president or a Supreme Court Justice does not mean there are no major issues of inequity. People have done well despite the obstacles and with tremendous effort.
    I’ll say it again, how does having equity and diversity job positions equal to being racist? Racist against whom? White people? What seems to be missing here is that the fight for equity is for all citizens. Fighting for equity and against racism means that this is a fairer nation for everyone.
    Here’s one example. If we deny that racism exists and allow racism to perpetuate as is happening today, you send a message to white children, who are not born racist, that there are differences between being Black and being White. Then white children begin to treat their peers differently not because of who they are as individuals, but by what people were taught about stereotypes.
    What happened to the white people who burned down parts of Tulsa Oklahoma where there was a thriving community of Black Americans in the early 1920’s? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You say you cheer on people who assimilate, but there is example after example of white people tearing down and killing people with no consequence.
    The KKK is a hate group and should be listed as a terrorist organization and not allowed to assemble. But here we are in 2020, and the KKK is still not by the law considered to be a terrorist group. Race in America is complicated and simply focusing on “assimilation” as the solution is overlooking the realities that you don’t have to face.
    ——-
    Bonnie, you wrote: “The only way to stop people focusing on race is to stop talking about it, and for God’s sake stop making ‘Black only’ groups or initiatives. Educate the people who are disadvantaged in every ethnic group. Teach them that it is NOT OK to have babies out of wedlock (That is number ONE)Teach them it is not OK to act like a wild thing, to dress, or tattoo or use bodily modification in ways that assault others’ sensibilities.”
    Bonnie, have you ever had an all women’s group to discuss issues relevant to only women because otherwise you might not feel safe or comfortable talking about issues you face with men? Black people feel constantly policed by what they say, what they wear, and are judged not as a human but as Black person first judged through a lens of whiteness, an erroneous restriction. Don’t take my word for it, there are plenty of books and films addressing this. Your language is evidence of why people would feel this way. You equate acting right with whiteness.
    You wrote: “Stop treating minorities like babies.”
    People are being murdered for being black. No other reason. This is part of the problem. We aren’t treating minorities like babies. In fact, people of color are often marginalized and voter discrimination is built into policies and administrative actions. Redlining and gerrymandering are used to keep Black people and progressives from advancing equity in this country. This is going on right now across states in the US. The federal government has pulled back federal regulations, leaving more than 50 ways to address these government issues (50 states plus the District of Columbia and territories). You may have heard of “microaggressions” such as comments like: “wow, you speak so well”. Uh, that isn’t microaggression, that’s abuse. Let’s call it what it is.
    Take a look at the data on how the Corona virus is disproportionately affecting people of color. There are article after article on this from the NY Times to the Washington Post to Johns Hopkins University and reputable medical institutions.
    That is not to say there is one way of addressing issues in this country, but denying that racism, white privilege, and inequity exists is not the way.
    ——
    Bonnie, you wrote: “Start expecting them to perform up to a standard and do not give anyone a participation trophy ever.”
    Having high standards is laudable. No one is saying we shouldn’t have high standards. The problem with that is the public school systems are not given the necessary resources in poorer and minority communities. Laws are not applied fairly and equally for all races. Housing and banking are not applied equally for all citizens.
    “You don’t see Asians being assaulted by police.”
    Asian Americans are discriminated against daily and face racism every day. The reason Black people are targets must be examined through an historical context. I’ve provided some references.
    “You don’t see Japanese boys walking down the street with their underwear and bottoms showing.”
    You are targeting Black children for not acting a certain way. There are plenty of white children who act outrageously hateful and disrespectful and some wear coats and ties in boarding schools and perpetuate racism and racist ideas and end up as judges talking as you have written about Black people.
    Where is your outrage at racist white supremacists and the KKK?
    You wrote: “People treat others differently when they are different. Face it. Be honest. I am so fed up with Political Correctness and walking on eggshells around groups such as Black people or Muslims.”
    ——-
    Bonnie you wrote: “If some poor person (any race) from a “project” or trailer park, or living on the streets, wants to get ahead no one should tell them they are acting “white” if they try to better themselves. If they have initiative enough to become educated and learn to speak, act, and dress properly and learn about manners we cheer them on. At least I do. This is true for black, white, or purple people.”
    You are perpetuating stereotypes and not addressing the root issues. Class and race are complex and require more thought. Here you equate acting “white”with proper ways to speak, act, and dress properly. This is not going to get us anywhere, because Black people today are constantly being policed for their dress and the way they wear their hair. You are not addressing root causes of inequity. “Acting White” is not the answer or the problem.
    —–
    Bonnie, your response to a dissenting viewpoint:
    “… It is not the laws that need to be changed. They are in place. There are also “rules” of conduct. If people (any people) refuse to comply with those rules they opt out of the culture which hires people and treats them with respect. Language matters, cleanliness matters, and attitude matters. But teaching young people that they are victims of society, or “white privilege” is like shooting them in the foot. It cripples them. There are no barriers to success. NONE. It is a mindset. And schools or random people who teach this attitude of victimhood are doing irreperable harm. Not just a little bit of harm, but hampering them for a lifetime. Blaming other people, for noticing the behavior of people who act in ways that are violent or anti-social or simply disrespectful is not helpful. Teach proper behavior. That would have an amazing effect on their lives.”
    You mention rules of conduct, not laws, here. What you are talking about I think it is safe to infer is assimilation. You go on to write that “language matters, cleanliness matters, and attitude matters”. I would challenge you to consider your own attitude and language that is charged with bias. This is a sweeping generalization and implies stereotypes that Black people generally have issues with assimilation and don’t speak well, are not clean, and have a bad attitude. How is this not egregiously racist? I’ll stay on point about your language and not make sweeping statements about you. First, people should be addressed as human and of the same human race. Black people should be accepted as American and not singled out like you are doing. This is not to say we should be color blind. Color blind can mean ignoring racism. We must address our own biases and privilege cannot be overlooked here.
    D. W. Griffith made the early film Birth of A Nation which dehumanizes Black people and creates the trope that Black people are savages and Black men are to be feared. This horrific film set the tone with white people which is still perpetuated today.
    ——-
    Take a look at the following excerpt from your post which I kept in order but collapsed into one paragraph to conserve space: “Potomac is well-positioned to be a leader in helping all students improve their lives. Why not take that opportunity. Instead, you are doing the exact opposite of helping them. You are treating them as victims. They are NOT. They are privileged because everyone is bending over backward to help them (and to appear compassionate and fair, because people are hypocrites). This country used to be segregated. It no longer is. So stop perpetuating racism by pretending to give these ungrateful wretches a voice. They have EVERY opportunity. There are no doors closed to black people today. All this whining is ridiculous. It reminds me of when I was a little girl in the 40s and old people used to say “Those Darkies! If you give them an inch they take a yard!” Don’t prove them right. We have changed all the laws. Most were changed more than a half-century ago. There are no impediments to black success except their own lack of ambition or willingness to learn. You do not need a special Director of Equity or student diversity. That is racist. Just get along and treat everyone the same. NEVER single a group out and tell them they are victims. They are all in school in a very special place. They need to be challenged more than nurtured. They need to compete not languish on the sidelines as spectators. Can’t you see the harm you are doing by perpetuating this myth of inferiority? Stop it at once!”
    What harm? What myth? No one who is advocating for justice and equity are saying Black people are inferior. Just the opposite. Denying the facts and daily reality of inequity and racism and the threat of being harmed and using words like “they” to describe our fellow citizens perpetuates myths and invites more harm. Not allowing the same freedoms white people enjoy such as allowing someone to make mistakes without getting killed or stereotyped for individual behaviors judged as being behavior of everyone with the same skin color perpetuates dangerous racist ideas. Here’s an example: crack and cocaine are pharmacologically identical. Yet, white people get lighter sentences for cocaine use than Black people do for crack cocaine. That is a policy difference that is part of the legal system. This isn’t fiction. These are real discrepancies. And there are many. Ask Bill Clinton how his policies on three strikes you’re out helped him win a second term and disproportionately incarcerated Black people in a for-profit prison system. Easier than that you can Google “Bill Clinton and Three Strikes your out” and look for reputable news sources. This is racist at the core and says Black people aren’t worthy of our compassion and not afforded the same health considerations. Addiction is not different for Black people and White people. This is a human issue. Until all people are considered equally worthy of compassion and empathy when addressing human problems, as two limited examples, equity and diversity are very important in going forward. The indigenous population, LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities are three other groups being discriminated against to the point of daily risk of their lives. There is an alarming rate of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and transgender Black women. People with disabilities are also targets when police instead of social workers are called when quick judgments are made when there is no threat from these individuals.
    Racism exists. Children and adults are being murdered because of racism and white supremacy at an alarming rate. People are being locked away for not doing anything wrong or given long prison sentences when their white counterparts get no jail time or a lot less. This is well documented. Your language using “they” and writing what your ancestors wrote characterizing Black people as “darkies” to justify your point of view as part of your argument is horrifically racist language and can be traced back to films like “Birth of A Nation” and farther back to colonization and slavery. You referred to Black people as “wretches”. This is outlined well in the book How To Be An Anti-Racist. It’s not good enough to not be racist. We must identify racism and be anti-racist in addressing policies in this country. Schools like The Potomac School are trying to address these real problems. You are asking the school to rescind the search for solutions by saying that there are no obstacles for Black people. Because of your post there would be a lot of angry people who would not take the time to fully address your post as I’m doing and would simply resort to calling you names.
    How can you not see that you are perpetuating language and views that are as old as slavery in this country. Your language gives fodder for the white supremacists and racists while you claim to cheer people on who assimilate. Before we can advance conversation we need to agree on the history and acknowledge the history and the current reality for Black people. This isn’t about political correctness. This is about humanity, dignity, and the chance for equal opportunity. Your language is a good example of white privilege and glossing over facts and evidence of racism.
    The underlying issues of crime and justice in this country must be addressed. Systemic racism is one of those underlying issues. Glossing over the complexities only perpetuates the worst parts of the US. And I, as a white man, want equity for all. I was one of those white children who was lied to and I saw the lie early and took it upon myself to take on a lifetime of learning about my own inherent privilege and became skeptical of white people, especially white men, and I discovered my racist surroundings impacting my better judgments. We can do better. We must do better. I am not inherently better than anyone else. My starting pointing is being human, equally capable of love, empathy, ethical actions, corruption, and failures. White people in power created this system. We must be part of dismantling this system and allowing communities to have a say in our future. We can only do that if we look carefully at the reality, otherwise we perpetuate the falsehoods.
    I leave you with one last thought experiment. Imagine you were a Black woman in the USA? Would you still think the laws and policies are fair? To answer that you would need to experience some level of what it means to be Black in the USA through, as I’ve mentioned, books, volunteering in nonprofit organizations, going to communities predominantly Black and keep an open mind to connect with the individual not your idea of who someone is before you get to know them, art, or film. Even then you will never know what it means to be Black in the USA, but at least it’s a start.
    However we go forward, the voices of those affected must be heard and incorporated into solutions going forward. The narrative from white people about problems they don’t experience cannot any longer be the droning mantra of oppression and stagnation perpetuating policies of inequity and abuse.

    ——-
    References, laughably inadequate but a start from my own viewpoint:
    “How To Be An Anti-Racist” by Ibram X. Kendi: This is an excellent book available in audio from Audible, from online libraries in ebook or paperback. Also other books by Ibram X. Kendi are also available such as the important “Stamped From The Beginning” which goes into more detail about the history of racism in this country for the last 400 years and continues today. One of the important parts of this book is that Black people can be racist towards other Black people using language similar to your own Bonnie. Clarence Thomas is an example of someone who refuses to see inequities. On the other hand, our other appointed Black Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall, who died in 1993, won important legal battles that helped pave the way for the civil rights laws of the 1960’s. Again standards of excellence is not the issue, inequity is a root issue. When children in schools with predominantly Black students have 20 year old text books and the lack of funds for sufficient resources, this is a problem. When you have an administration trying to abolish public schools, this is a problem. These are obstacles you did not address.
    Antiracism Center: https://www.ibramxkendi.com/antiracism-center-2 This is an excellent source for learning about racism that is going on today.
    “Evicted: Poverty and Profit In The American City” by Matthew Desmond: An excellent, Pulitzer Prize winning book on housing problems in the US today.
    “I’m Not Your Negro” Documentary about the unfinished book by American Writer James Baldwin which outlines racism today and through the last 60 years.
    “13th” This documentary outlines in great detail some of the discriminatory and racist policies and systemic racism in our judicial system since the 13th Amendment to the constitution.
    Article in the Wall Street Journal from July 6, 2020 in which the Federal Reserve Bank President of Atlanta warns of systemic racism’s toll on the economy affecting all citizens (and to be clear this is racism as I define it against Black people and people of color): https://www.wsj.com/articles/first-black-fed-president-warns-of-systemic-racisms-economic-toll-11594027802?st=xgvhqk5tbsqdr5c&fbclid=IwAR2R_wq4A5rbO7o7nlGd_7ESGipg0QyXlz6B_n-7xIecZfZFTuPct6bb47o
    Debate on race in the USA between James Baldwin and William F. Buckley Jr. at Oxford in 1965. This can be seen in full on YouTube for free. This is an excellent debate. James Baldwin outlines exactly why I have an issue with your posting Bonnie. Because when you are talking about Black people you need to be informed about what it means to be Black. James Badwin addresses this beautifully and is a cornerstone to his argument and is as relevant as it was 55 years ago. And I think you will notice Bonnie that Buckley’s language and your language have several similarities. And here we are all these decades later and the debate continues rather than working together for the same progress.
    $2.00 A Day: Living On Almost Nothing In America by H. Luke Shaefer and Kathryn Edin
    Poetry of Langston Hughes and Nikki Giovanni among many, many others
    Current NY Times Op/Ed articles by Charles M. Blow

  12. Looking at root causes rather than blaming programs the welfare system is the place to look. Blaming the welfare system as Reagan did is not the answer. This is well documented. We can go back and forth about this kind of minutia. Both Democrats and Republicans are to blame where we are. American politicians created this system and lead us to where we are today. It’s too easy to point to something like the welfare system that helps millions of Americans who would otherwise have not been able to survive until they could make it on their own. Anyone can take advantage of a system, but to blame Black people for welfare issues is an incredibly racist idea. Social security is there for a social safety net and it is used that way by the majority of Americans. People generally don’t want to be on Social Security and want to work. The problem is more complicated than you are willing to admit.

  13. Bonnie,

    By your claims then surely due to education, behavior, and opportunities, you must think former President Obama and First Lady never experienced racism. But that is wrong. I encourage you to read books written by these fine, educated black professionals and they will tell you of their very recent and very real lived experiences of racism.

    It is not only about the laws, or the implicit customs and taboos in our cultures, it is the carried white privilege we were born into unknowingly, unwittingly, and being invisible to us from our own experience left unchecked.

    You say the letter from the school reminds you of what your grandmother said or warned 40 years ago… those dairies, give them an inch and they will take a mile. Yes, the laws have changed, not necessarily improved in some cases, but your own words calling people you have never even met or don’t know wretched shows that more so than the laws, many white people’s attitudes and learned prejudices and beliefs have not changed.

    So some Black people have become judges, lawyers, doctors, even President. But so one or a handful reaches some fabricated pinnacle and you are willing to damn the rest that are condemned to poverty or working for wages at nearly half the rate of their white peers in every industry?

    How many Black people do you actually know, do you actually interact with and depend on as a teacher or lawyer or postal worker or judge or accountant in your day to day life?

    How can you say in the same breath that there is no racism, but life is not fair. Life is not always fair, but is inherently less fair for those with darker skins that despite being born with every bit as much worth and potential and uniqueness as you or I or any of our children, continue to be reduced to some degrading, animalistic, wretched inferior to even the worst of a white person. Check your comments, your own words, and imagine someone said that about you or your children.

    Racism is alive and well, it pulses through your life and words like a virus. Can you honestly say you don’t realize you harbor these feelings? Would you give up your life in trade for the experience of a black person?

    You say the letter is an attempt to assuage the schools conscious – from what? For what? What about yours?

    It is not your fault that there is racism still today. It is not your fault that even if life has been hard and unfair for you, that you still have white privilege and probably other privileges as well. But it is your fault if you continually deny seeing it or working to change it. If we can make the world a bit more fair, as our an editors have done for us as women, do we not owe it to eachother and our future generations to do the work and try? For humanity? For unity? For liberty and justice for all?

    I don’t know you, but I don’t think you are a bad person. I do however think you are grossly misunderstanding and uninformed of the actual role of the position the school is adding, its purpose, and its need.

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