I May Be Overly Judgmental, But I Think A School Board Member Should Know What Racism Is….

White school board member Mike Martin read an article toward the end of a three-hour meeting of the Wilson School Board in Pennsylvania that claimed, among other things, that blacks are easily offended and adverse to “correction” when asked to pull up their pants or turn down their music.

“I think sometimes we’re afraid to discipline a group because of the recourse or their position or it might offend them, and I think that brings problems that I know that we’ve been talking about, you know, rowdiness in classrooms and discipline in classrooms because we’re afraid to take that next step,” Wilson said after reading the article, which was apparently written by a black author.

It did not go over well. When informed that the attitudes displayed in the article were racist, Martin professed shock and innocence. He told reporters after the meeting blew up,

I really did not think I was being racist. I apologize for how it came across. As horrible as it sounds, it wasn’t meant to be a horrible statement and I need to fix it….I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feeling, if it came across that way I have to apologize. I have to step to the plate. I’m really sorry that this thing blossomed into what it manifested into…Most people that really know me know that I don’t have a racist bone in my body…I know some people think I’m a closet racist and I have to live with that.

Someone explain to this guy that when one publicly and approvingly reads a document that attributes negative attitudes and offensive conduct to an entire race, that’s racism by definition.

Then someone explain to him that idiots shouldn’t serve on school boards.

12 thoughts on “I May Be Overly Judgmental, But I Think A School Board Member Should Know What Racism Is….

  1. The author on substack who goes by Handwaving Freakoutery noted that there’s two definitions of racism: the newer intersectionality position that racism is a combination of prejudice and power, and the classical position that racism is tied to treating others poorly because of prejudice. This classical definition is perhaps best expressed in MLK’s speech regarding judging the content of an individuals character rather than their skin color.

    This person probably thought that expressing ideas authored by a minority meant he was shielded, since the argument was from a race not perceived to be in a position of power.

    The problem with intersectionality squishy definitions is they get really messy fast… An anti-semite is always racist in the classical view, but an minority bank teller or actor gets free reign to spew all kinds of hateful rhetoric against the powerful in his community.

    Was this school board member racist? In my opinion, not enough information to tell either way. I know for sure if he relayed the original author’s arguments and those arguments were informative and valid, then he’s a weenie for apologizing.

    It sounds to me he is arguing that black students cause more problems as a result of them being disciplined differently. They are disciplined differently by a fear embedded into those in power, the teachers, being labeled racist.

    From this we get full circle to the classical definition of racism: treating others differently because their race is different. If the teacher believes that enforcing the same standards consistently across all students would achieve better levels of conduct in the classroom, then he’s not racist at all.

    Still a weenie, but not racist.

    • Read the linked article. Probably gave the guy too much benefit of the doubt.

      He is a weenie and a jerk. Reading about his previous controversy around a confrontational attitude. It now seems more likely to me that he picked the article intending for the minority author to be used as a human shield.

    • Isn’t Handwaving Freakoutery missing the most common “definsition” of racism, which is that any criticism of, insult against, indictment of, accusation against, opposition to or accountability attached to a “person of color” is inherently racist?

  2. I think sometimes we’re afraid to discipline a group because of the recourse or their position or it might offend them, and I think that brings problems that I know that we’ve been talking about, you know, rowdiness in classrooms and discipline in classrooms because we’re afraid to take that next step

    If that came from a written article, I certainly hope it was a direct quote from somebody speaking extemporaneously.

  3. The question remains: Is it true that because teachers are afraid to confront blacks when they display behaviors that appear to be wrong because of being labeled a racist? And if so, does that behavior on the part of non-black teachers reinforce a student’s willingness to be disruptive in class.

    A lot of ink has been spilled on the subject of being a weenie and the duty to confront. If one group of people learn that by yelling racism whenever someone discusses what appear to be common habits by young men of that group, irrespective of income level, they can avoid any negative repercussion and in doing so they can also punish the person attributing the habits to behavioral issues, they will use the tactic to their advantage.

    Is only Thomas Sowell allowed to challenge black behaviors without being called a racist. The fact that the meeting blew up and his responding apology proves the statement made.

    • “The question remains: Is it true that because teachers are afraid to confront blacks when they display behaviors that appear to be wrong because of being labeled a racist? And if so, does that behavior on the part of non-black teachers reinforce a student’s willingness to be disruptive in class.”

      Yes, and yes. Are those even in question any more? It’s a major reason I pulled my son out of high school for home schooling. He reported that almost every class began with black students milling around, laughing, talking loudly, as the teacher sat silent waiting for them to “settle down.” This would use up the first 10-15 minutes of each class. To hell with that.

      • Jack, I knew the answer to that question having direct experience in that area. This school district in Berks County PA appears to be predominantly white but I could not find and demographic data to support that assessment other than looking at the photos posted by the Wilson School District.

        I understand Jim’s point below such that you condemn the behavior without any racial attribution. Unfortunately, if a small minority of students are instigating the “rowdiness” in classrooms and they are nearly all Black students it makes no difference if you talk about general appearance or their race if only one race is emblematic of the behavior. The “Gangsta” look is endemic among Black youth and in fact simply using the term “Gangsta” identifies this as a Black cultural phenomenon. As such, any use of the term “Gangsta” that is critical of the exhibited behavior is automatically assumed to be aimed specifically at Black students and is deemed racist even if some white students have adopted that look like Jim described. The whole point of cultural appropriation is to lay claim of ownership to some significant racially defined behavior or custom.

        When I went to Woodbourne Junior High in Baltimore back in the late 60’s the school was about 50-50 white to black. There were very unique behavior patterns by each group. Black females would physically unload on white boys as they loudly sauntered around the room while the Black males demanded a nickel or a quarter. Failing to acquiesce resulted in a minor assault. White students were less disruptive initially but tended to talk more during class or were punished for shooting spitballs. I will admit I was not a model student. My point is simply if a witnessed behavior is seen being committed virtually entirely by boys, girls, Blacks or whites, using gender or race in the explication of the behaviors needing modification does not make its use racist or anything else for that matter. In fact, I would like to know the race of the offender so as to know how best to communicate to the offending group or tailor punishment.

  4. Does the duty to confront stop at the schoolhouse doors. His prior confrontational remarks were about cross dressing 3-4 year olds and a book in the Reading Olympics program that parents complained about. We do not know if “some parents” means one or two or a majority in the community. Given that the writer seemed to want to showcase a pattern of behavior that is not in vogue at this moment, the issue was included to cast him as a bigot.

    “Board member Dr. Amy Kennedy asked Martin to apologize for comments he made during a discussion about a book that is part of the district’s Reading Olympics program that features a transgender girl as the main character. Some parents in the district have expressed opposition to the book being included in the program.

    At the previous meeting, Martin spoke about confronting the parents of young children — 3- and 4-year-olds — who dress their boys in girls clothing or vice versa.”

    Are these the parents who we chastise for giving their kids puberty blockers or other “gender affirming” care right here? To be honest I have no idea when I can confront anyone’s behaviors anymore because I do not have the correct privileges.

    editor note: I copied the quotation directly from the source and you will see the author cannot distinguish between a possessive and a plural. I wonder what school the editor of that piece went to.

  5. Being “easily offended and adverse to ‘correction’ when asked to pull up their pants or turn down their music” describes a whole category of students that has nothing to do with race but rather behavior that is disruptive to the school environment. Mr. Martin’s mistake was equating undesired behavior with race and using an appeal to authority from what he considered a “safe” source to justify his position.
    My little rural-suburban county’s population (108,000) is less than 5% African American, which is directly reflected in the student population. When the “gangsta culture” foolishness first got big in the mid-1990s, I was the supervisor of my agency’s School Resource Officer program. It was really surprising (and funny, to me) to see so many middle-class white kids start sagging their pants in the halls and blaring rap music from their new Mustangs and Camaros in the high school parking lots. (This was before “cultural appropriation” was a thing.) When the schools moved to crack down on this behavior (their AOR, not ours, since no violation of the law was involved) they were careful to do so in a firm, fair and consistent race-neutral manner. Certainly, the small percentage of minority students affected made it easier to counter any claims of racism, although there were a few. In short order, pants went back up and the volume of music (of any type) on school property dropped. In most cases, I think parents (of all races) were grateful for the “backup” from school officials.
    My point, and I do have one, is that proscribing and correcting disruptive student behavior without invoking race is fairly easy to do, and why Mr. Martin (obviously a poor choice for a school board member) even thought that it would be helpful to read that article aloud during the meeting is beyond my ken.

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