Friday, April 20, 2007

Anchorage NAACP "Investigating" Alleged Racial Discrimination At Palmer High School

The Anchorage branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is investigating several acts of alleged anti-black racial discrimination within the Matanuska-Susitna School District which have taken place during the past several months. However, Anchorage branch president Vince Casey asserts that the NAACP role so far has merely been that of consultant and facilitator. This is a summary of the full story published in the Anchorage Daily News on April 20th, 2007. Surprisingly, the local Mat-Su Frontiersman newspaper has not covered this story.

At least two families have consulted the NAACP for help. In the first case, Scott Rounds and his fiancee, Michelle Hicks, contacted the NAACP in February of this year after Hicks's son, Kyle Coates, was allegedly turned away from a dance at Palmer High School. Coates, a black student at Valley Pathways, showed up at the Valentine's Dance with his date, who attends Palmer, along a handful of other Palmer and Pathways students. Rounds believes that Palmer assistant principal Cheryl Sullivan should have recognized Coates as a Pathways student, because Palmer serves as a bus transfer point for students bound to and from Pathways. However, Sullivan supposedly told Coates to leave because the dance was only for Palmer students, even though the other Pathways students, who are white, apparently were permitted to enter without question.

Scott Rounds also believes that Sullivan may have singled Coates out by his skin color in another instance, too. Even though Palmer High's school policy forbids it, Pathways students frequently enter Palmer High while they're waiting for transfer buses in the mornings and afternoons, he said. Sullivan one day told Coates to leave, but apparently gave no such instruction to the white Pathways students.

To his credit, Rounds didn't immediately run crying to the NAACP. He first used the local school chain of command, addressing his concerns. He first discussed the issue with Palmer High principal Wolfgang Winter. However, according to Rounds, Winter said "...things happen. I wasn't there to see it". They next tried district administrators, but claim the district did not return their phone calls. Only after they contacted the NAACP a few weeks later did any real action result.

In the second case, Aundra and Andrea Jackson have also consulted with NAACP, claiming that their son, Anthony, currently a junior at Palmer High School, has faced racial discrimination at the school since his freshman year. Much of this complaint centers around recurring incidents where white students allegedly called him a "nigger". Parental complaints to school adminstrators apparently brought no relief.

However, two incidents apparently pushed the parents over the edge. In March of this year, Anthony Jackson, now a junior, was suspended from riding the school bus and from school over a verbal confrontation with a white student aboard a school bus triggered when the white student allegedly called Jackson a "nigger". However, while Jackson was suspended, the white student was not disciplined for his role in the confrontation. However, when the Jacksons complained to school officials, the bus suspension was reversed days later.

Just weeks later, though, Anthony Jackson was apparently again singled out for suspension following an altercation with another white student. In this case, as Anthony approached the entryway to his aisle in one of the school's locker banks, two white boys stood with their arms bulked up on their sides to block his way. When Anthony tried to pass them, one of the boys called him a "nigger" and nudged him in the shoulder. Jackson pushed the boy back and a fight ensued. But while Anthony received an eight-day suspension for fighting, the other boy apparently received no punishment.

Neither Palmer principal Wolfgang Winter nor vice-principal Cheryl Sullivan could be reached Thursday for comment. However, other Mat-Su District officials say they take those concerns seriously and have plans to improve the climate for minority students inside the predominantly white School District. In particular, 736 of Palmer's 910 students are white; only 20 are black, which reflects the racial composition of the local area. Chief School Administrator Larry Doyle acknowledges that problems exist. Not only did he address the issue at the school board meeting held Wedneeday, but he told the Anchorage Daily News that additional allegations of racial discrimination have been raised by other students, staff and families.

Doyle further stated that the district just concluded an investigation into Rounds' concerns, and is investigating the other complaints as well. However, he noted that he didn't learn of the Jacksons' complaints until their testimony at Wednesday's school board meeting.

Doyle addressed remedial efforts currently underway. First, the district will recruit an Equal Employment/Education Opportunity Officer (predictable). Second, students and staff at two schools will participate in diversity workshops this spring (also predictable). And finally, the district has invited the Rev. Michael Oleksa, an Orthodox priest who specializes in diversity training and cross-cultural communications, to mentor Palmer and Pathway faculty, staff and students in a weeklong diversity workshop beginning April 30th.

Analysis: The failure of the Palmer High School administrators to publicly explain their actions fuels the allegations of discrimination and may obscure some other valid reasons for the disparity in treatment. It is possible that both students in question were either misbehaving at the time, or had a previous track record of deliberate misbehavior warranting harsher treatment that that meted out to their contemporaries. Or perhaps the Palmer adminstrators were instructed by district staff not to respond to media inquiries. Lack of information fuels speculation, suspicion, and mistrust. The Anchorage School District, being more transparent, would have reacted differently and more constructively to this situation (of course, with a student population of around 45% non-white, ASD has more experience in managing "diversity").

One must wonder though where white students are getting this attitude over 40 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After all, we've had 40 years of diversity indoctrination. We elevated Dr. Martin Luther King to "icon" status, giving him his own holiday (while forcing George Washington to share his birthday with 42 other guys). The students certainly can't be getting it from the school; the Mat-Su District has a strict non-discrimination policy forbidding even the wearing of any racial pride symbols or clothing, even if it merely expresses positive pride in one's race. Click HERE to view the district's 50-page student code in PDF format.

Perhaps they get it from the culture. After all, they see black entertainers calling each other "nigga" with impunity and, trying to be cool, emulate it. As a matter of fact, if it wasn't for white promotion and participation, hip-hop culture would have remained anecdotal rather than morphed into a significant mainstream sub-culture. Perhaps these students are also outraged over the fact that whites like Don Imus get politically scourged and economically disenfranchised merely for using equivalent phrases like "nappy-headed hos", while black entertainers like Chris Rock routinely use anti-white routines in their performances. The double standard will never be truly accepted by the white community, not even in the name of "historical remediation".

Most likely the students got these attitudes from their parents. There is a significant difference between the public and private attitudes towards diversity expressed by many within the white community. Many whites publicly pledge ritualistic devotion to diversity to preserve social standing and employability, but express different attitudes off the job and away from the public square. Palmer, just 41 road miles north of Anchorage, has been one of the fastest-growing communities in Alaska during the past 10 years. The growth has been fueled by lower property prices and more "living space" available (ninety percent of Anchorage's developable land has already been developed). However, many of the people moving there have relocated from Anchorage, despite being well-established in Anchorage. They sold quality homes at a large profit, not to relocate out of Alaska to warmer climes, which would be understandable, but to move just 41 miles away. Why would anyone be willing to commute a total of 500 miles per week between the Mat-Su Valley and Anchorage during an era of rising gas prices? I believe it's because that, while they profess diversity with their lips, their hearts (and residences) are far from it. And in the privacy of their homes, they speak frankly about the drawbacks of diversity, where their kids can hear it. So when their kids are confronted with diversity at school, they react accordingly.

All of these reasons do not obviate the fact that the Mat-Su School District must come up with a more expeditious way to hear and resolve grievances in this area. In particular, if Palmer High insists on allowing Pathway students to wait for their school bus indoors, they must allow this privilege to all Pathways students, except when misbehavior warrants variations. And if an inquiry arises, school officials must be willing and able to show the documented misbehavior warranting differential treatment.

The offensive use of commonly-known racial slurs towards anyone of a different race, including whites, in a volatile multicultural environment such as a school, should be recognized as "fighting words" or "incendiary speech" (to be distinguished from "hate speech", which is a Marxist concept), and if it provokes a physical altercation, the person using the word in the first place must be held accountable. This may seem an impingment upon free speech, but it's the price we pay for allowing mass non-white immigration into this country. And it's a price we will continue to pay until we fix the problem. And that problem is NOT within the purview of a school district to solve. It is up to US to solve that problem at the ballot box in November 2008.

The difference in concept between hate speech and incendiary speech is simple - hate speech is punished merely for being delivered, while incendiary speech is punished only if it immediately leads to a breach of the peach or a criminal act. The latter concept correlates better with the First Amendment.

2 comments:

  1. No matter where they go, the jungle goes with them. Even in Alaska. Amazing

    ReplyDelete
  2. I didn't realize white punks came from the jungle!

    ReplyDelete