A PERSPECTIVE ON RACE – Speech to the Buffalo BOE by Julianne Thompson


My Address to the Buffalo School Board
by Julianne Thompson
6.24.2015

A PERSPECTIVE ON RACE

I have been observing these proceedings for some time now, from the appalling raucous rumbles to the quiet meetings with attentive audiences like the recent one in which myself & others were tossed out without cause.  I would like to believe though, that we set the new standard for what is acceptable behavior here.  I strongly encourage this Board NEVER to hesitate in using the same authority to oust truly disruptive individuals in the future.

I would also like to suggest that some of the conflict here lies, not in differences of skin color, but the rather radically opposing temperaments here – the very expressive women with a penchant for extended oratory – and stodgy men.  Just the facts ma’am kind of men.  Recognizing that difference, I would encourage those inclined to reiterate without respite to resist the urge, remember where we are, not at a church bazaar or a ladies game of poker, and to take more seriously learning and using Roberts Rules of Order.

Know too, that if a member says he will tell the Board he wants to take a vote, and says again he will ask for a vote, that these mean the same thing.  Discussing it is just splitting hairs.  Also, when the Board votes and a majority prevails, this is indeed legal.
[This was in reference to some discussion by the Board a week before, in which I was the only member of the public in attendance.]

I am personally very disturbed by the demand for a black superintendent.  Imagine the outrage if some were to insist upon only a white superintendent. Apparently, the reasoning being “No one can understand the needs of our children like a black person can.”  What, black children are different than white children?  How so?  Are they less capable?  Not as intelligent?  Does poverty affect their ability to learn?  I can tell you from experience, with proper structure and support, it doesn’t.  We believe the answer is NO, children do not have special needs based on the color of their skin, and children in Buffalo Public Schools do not belong to the black community alone.  We ALL care deeply about raising the level of achievement and providing a better future for ALL children stuck in failing schools.  To think otherwise is not logical.

Quoting a rather insightful comment from Dylann Storm Roof, the extremely disturbed young man who killed church members in Charleston last week, he said “Black people are racially aware almost from birth, but White people on average don’t think about race in their daily lives.”  He apparently tragically felt that needed to change, presumably in response to the violent race riots of late and the astonishing calls for violence against all Whites.

PLEASE stop telling our children from the time they are young that they are going to be treated differently simply because of their skin color.  PLEASE stop focusing on skin color and start focusing on the need to achieve.  Continuing this multi-generational failure is simply not an option anymore.

You may not have had any part in the failures of the past, but you can certainly put an end to them now.  What’s the harm in trying a new way?  If it fails, you can say “See?  I told you so.”  If it succeeds, everyone wins, and you’ll be lauded, not as obstructionists, but peacemakers, the ones that let the healing begin… Like the beautiful ladies of Charleston, who, suffering the deepest offense, found it in their hearts to forgive.  THAT would be a legacy no one would easily forget.

***********************

I had also reserved a spot for a friend to show Frantz Kebreau’s important video, but was prohibited from doing so – they cited copyright and royalties concerns, though it is fully accessible in the public domain.

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