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13-Yr Old Allegedly Persecuted by Teachers for “Radical” Essay on Frederick Douglass

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“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.” Frederick Douglass

On Saturday, February 18, 2012, the Frederick Douglass Foundation of New York presented the first Spirit of Freedom award to Jada Williams, a 13-year old city of Rochester student. Miss Williams wrote an essay on her impressions of Frederick Douglass’ first autobiography the Narrative of the Life. This was part of an essay contest, but her essay was never entered. It offended her teachers so much that, after harassment from teachers and school administrators at School #3, Miss Williams was forced to leave the school.
We at the Frederick Douglass Foundation honored her because her essay actually demonstrates that she understood the autobiography, even though it might seem a bit esoteric to most 13-year olds. In her essay, she quotes part of the scene where Douglass’ slave master catches his wife teaching then slave Frederick to read. During a speech about how he would be useless as a slave if he were able to read, Mr. Auld, the slave master, castigated his wife.
Miss Williams quoted Douglass quoting Mr. Auld: “If you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there will be no keeping him. It will forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master.”
Miss Williams personalized this to her own situation. She reflected on how the “white teachers” do not have enough control of the classroom to successfully teach the minority students in Rochester. While she herself is more literate than most, due to her own perseverance and diligence, she sees the fact that so many of the other “so-called ‘unteachable’” students aren’t learning to read as a form of modern-day slavery. Their illiteracy holds them back in society.
Her call to action was then in her summary: “A grand price was paid in order for us to be where we are today; but in my mind we should be a lot further, so again I encourage the white teachers to instruct and I encourage my people to not just be a student, but become a learner.”


This offended her English teacher so much that the teacher copied the essay for other teachers and for the Principal. After that, Miss Williams’ mother and father started receiving phone calls from numerous teachers, all claiming that their daughter is “angry.” Miss Williams, mostly a straight-A student, started receiving very low grades, and she was kicked out of class for laughing and threatened with in-school suspension.
There were several meetings with teachers and administrators, but all failed to answer Miss Williams’ mother’s questions. The teachers refused to show her the tests and work that she had supposedly performed so poorly on. Instead, the teachers and administrators branded her a problem.
Unable to take anymore of the persecution, they pulled her from School #3. Wanting to try another school, they were quickly informed that that school was filled and told to try “this school.” During her first day at this new school, she witnessed four fights, and other students asked her if she was put here because she fights too much.
Long story short, they took an exceptional student, with the radical idea that kids should learn to read, and put her in a school of throwaway students who are even more unmanageable than the average student in her previous school. To protect their daughter, her parents have had to remove her from school, and her mother has had to quit her job so she can take care of Miss Williams.
To date, the administrators of School #3 have refused to release her records, even though she no longer attends the school, and they have repeatedly given her mother the run around. We at the Frederick Douglass Foundation have contacted school administrators in regards to this situation and have also been told to hit the pavement.
That’s what we intend to do. If this school will sacrifice the welfare of an above-average student whose essay, that they asked her to write, they find offensive, we intend to make everyone aware of this monstrous injustice. The school has a job, and it is not doing it. We would like as many folks as possible to call the Principal of School #3 and complain about this injustice. Her name is Miss Connie Wehner, and she can be reached at (585) 454-3525. This treatment of Jada Williams cannot stand.

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March 15-17, 2012
4th ANNUAL FREDERICK
DOUGLASS FOUNDATION
LEADERSHIP SUMMIT
Washington Marriott Hotel at the Metro Center

GET TICKETS HEREFrederick Douglass
I have one great political idea. . . . That idea is an old one…..The best expression of it, I have found in the Bible. It is in substance, “Righteousness exalteth a nation; sin is a reproach to any people” [Proverbs 14:34]. This constitutes my politics – the negative and positive of my politics, and the whole of my politics. . . . I feel it my duty to do all in my power to infuse this idea into the public mind, that it may speedily be recognized and practiced upon by our people.

James

142 Comment

  1. Does anyone know if this school has been cited for failing to comply with Federal guidelines under FERPA? FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) was enacted in 1974. It is a set of regulations that applies to those institutions that receive funding from the Department of Education. FERPA was written specifically for students and guarantees them the right to inspect and review their education records, the right to seek to amend education records, and the right to have some control over the disclosure of information from those education records.

    An education record is defined as any record that directly identifies a student and is maintained by the institution or educational agency or by a party acting for the institution or educational agency. A key distinction of education records is that education records are shared. Education records can exist in any medium including the following: handwritten, typed, computer generated, videotape, audiotape, film, microfilm, microfiche, e-mail, and others.

  2. I was pushed out of my position as an elementary public school in Texas. I advocated for children and complained when bad decisions were made. I earned my Master’s in education one month after I had to resign to avoid termination. My thesis was that teachers are to blame for the “Achievment Gap” on standardized tests, between the underprivilaged and their white middle class counterparts, because they don’t have the same expectations for these students and their lack of expectation shows up as lower achievement. How much do they doubt these underprivilaged students? About 20%, the same amount they perform below their middle class counterparts. I have pretty much given up on public school because as much as they talk about raising the bar, anyone who tries to actually do something is removed or persuaded to resign. The teachers who remain are encouraged to keep their head down and their mouths closed, and keeping their job is their main incentive.

  3. Leland

    No I an not that one. I am afraid no one would ever pay me for having any singing ability. I like singing, but I am just not very good at it.

  4. I left a message with the Principal’s Secretary. I know it doesn’t mean much and most likely will fall on deaf ears. But the fact is, people need to speak up more now-a-days. Otherwise this behavior and idiocy will continue. Take 30 seconds to speak up and make the phone call. Press 7.

  5. […] Read the this story in its entirety: here […]

  6. Ron, I am a great believer in speaking out. That goes for all of our rights. The more our rights are in danger the more stubborn that we have to be about using them. By the way for those who will go one to college or university, nobody cares there if you make it or fail. So only the student can decide if he/she is willing to fight hard enough to make it. It is a lot harder than high school ever was. You are either the most dependable friend that you ever have, or your own worst enemy.

  7. A comment earlier about bigotry was right on. As another indicated, it can exist within races, as well as being cross-racial. I had a black friend years ago who visited his girl friend’s church and had to sit at the back because he was too dark to sit at the front … the black church was divided by degrees of color! He was very upset by this … “they treated me like I was an Indian or something” was his comment. Fresh from being looked down on for something he could not help he was looking down on someone else, with his justification being that the Indian was somehow less worthy than he.
    My friend showed the root of the problem, but sadly did not understand it. HE FELT INADEQUATE, SO TO MAKE HIMSELF FEEL GOOD HE HAD TO CLAIM HE WAS BETTER THAN SOMEONE ELSE (thereby moving himself one step up the ladder). All that any of us want is to feel worthwhile, to ourselves and to others. Education will help but the real solution is to treat others as decent individuals.

  8. in case anyone was wondering, I just called the school, and got a message that the office is closed.

  9. I admit it. Right now I am conspiring against the blacks in my community. My white friends and I wait for them to leave the room at work so we can sabotage their efforts. I’m being facetious, of course. Look, obviously racism exists amongst some whites. After reading some of what was posted here, I believe their is some amongst some blacks, as well. If you are black and over 50, you have an excuse. I’m white, but with black, red and yellow family. Guess I’m more off-white than white. Please don’t judge all by the ignorant actions of a few. And good luck Ms. Williams.

  10. Having been thrown out of school for freedom of speech as well this means something to me.

  11. The point is there are never enough smart and enough brave people. So I think it behooves us to support someone who is both.
    Miss Williams has the making of a find strong woman. Do we ever have enough of them, any more than do we have enough fine brave and strong men? I am often amazed how much trouble I seem to get into when I point out some of the less nice things in our history, but I remember that our ancestors never thought that the United States was good enough, that there was not a reason to make it better. It may have upset their fellow citizens, but it also made us become a better country. Seems to me that we must do the same. I am old enough to remember the fifties and the sixties,and nothing gets me madder than someone suggesting that those times were better. I remember them too well when being even slightly different was treated as being somehow subversive. I remember the fear of World War Three breaking out. I remember the violence of the people, the police, and the government. Now we are better off,but we still have a lot that needs improving. We can’t improve this country by giving up or just pointing the finger of blame. We have to make a difference, starting with how we treat each other. A person who cannot give respect is rarely worthy of respect. Promise little, but always try to do a bit more than you promise. And learn the power of the word NO. This is how you set the boundaries of what you will allow. It can be hard when you must use the word no on your friends who want to do something you feel is wrong, or when it is coworkers, or a boss , or a politicians. What we do and what we allow though our own silence is just as bad as whatever is being done or not done by others. This is our country, it is your country, treat it as yours, same with your neighborhood, town or city, your state. Make it better. Help your neighbors, help your friends when need be. Give other people around you hope, encourage them whenever possible, we have far too many discouragers. Notice the good and the beautiful no matter how small, if someone is doing good, let them know that you have noticed. At my age I am trying to become the elder that I wish that I had known when I was younger. I remember every stage of my life,and by remembering I tend to be a bit easier on those that are younger.The last thing I would ever want to do is crush their spirit, if crushed they will never become what they might become. With a bit of notice and a bit of encouragement, who knows what the might become and how valuable they may be to our society. This much each of us can do, regardless of who we are or our status in society.

  12. Wow….Having been thrown out of school for free speech i can relate.

  13. To remind of what Jada Williams wrote: “Miss Williams personalized this to her own situation. She reflected on how the “white teachers” do not have enough control of the classroom to successfully teach the minority students in Rochester. While she herself is more literate than most, due to her own perseverance and diligence, she sees the fact that so many of the other “so-called ‘unteachable’” students aren’t learning to read as a form of modern-day slavery. Their illiteracy holds them back in society.

    “Her call to action was then in her summary: ‘A grand price was paid in order for us to be where we are today; but in my mind we should be a lot further, so again I encourage the white teachers to instruct and I encourage my people to not just be a student, but become a learner.'”

    From this I think it’s clear Jada is saying that the fault lies both with the teachers *and* the students. Neither are doing their jobs. It’s not clear to me whether the children are so averse to learning and effort that their teachers have given up, or the teachers are so incompetent and lazy that the kids are bored and uncontrollable. Maybe it’s both. Or perhaps it’s that these teachers do not know how to teach *these* students. I think we’d have to know more about this situation to figure out whether racism is the *fundamental* problem, leading to the teachers just not trying. Or whether the peer pressures among students to not “act white”, or to not cooperate with the white teachers because they’re white (perhaps some black student racism going on?), and/or the failure of parents to raise their kids with a love of learning has created barriers that these teachers are not equipped to overcome. And they don’t know what to do about it.

    Maybe the teachers started out racist, and that’s the whole problem. Or maybe – and I think this is most likely – because they don’t know how to meet the challenge that these students pose, these teachers have given up and ignore their difficult students – not having the insight, bottomless energy, determination, dedication, and giftedness of a Marva Collins.

    These students need at least 3 things to become learners: parents who want them to learn; teachers who know how to interest, inspire, and teach them; and the kids themselves have to be willing to allow themselves to be inspired, even if they’re not self-motivated like Jada.

    If you don’t know who Marva Collins is, have a look at this:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marva_Collins

    http://www.thehistorymakers.com/biography/biography.asp?bioindex=6&category=educationMakers

    I highly recommend her book “Marva Collins’ Way”.

    Too bad there aren’t more teachers like Marva Collins. Maybe Jada Williams will be the next to put on her mantle.

  14. Another book I would like to recommend is “Inside American Education:The Decline, The Deception, The Dogmas” by Thomas Sowell.

    It was first published in 1993, but I believe it is still very relevant today.

    This book has nothing to do with racism, so what could it have to do with Jada’s situation? For one thing, it charges that potential public school teachers of high ability *tend* to be discouraged by certain requirements that are not as off-putting to people of lesser ability. For example, Sowell writes that the American public school system has a legal requirement that education courses be taken by those who want careers as tenured teachers. He says that these courses have been almost unanimously condemned by scholars who have studied them and teachers who have taken them. Sowell says that these courses tend to filter out the education students of high ability, who “refuse to subject themselves to the inanity of education courses, which are the laughing stock of many universities.” Students of high intellectual ability are repelled by these courses. Students of meagre intellectual ability are attracted, because the courses are easy. Since private schools do not have to require education courses of their teachers, many aspiring teachers who can’t stand to take the courses seek employment in private schools, or decide to take their brains into some other profession entirely. (This is not to say that *no one* of high ability is willing to stick it out.)

    This is just one of the scathing charges Sowell makes against the educational establishment and the laws surrounding it. But the cumulative result is a system far below the quality that it could be, and too many teachers unfit for their jobs.

    The poster who joked that the teachers were resentful of Jada for being smarter than they were may actually be right.

  15. Change is gonna come; it’s been a long time coming,but change gonna come.!

    • Such a nice cliche, but what does it really mean, nothing. Change can be for the better, but it is just as likely to be for the worse, especially if we just wait around for it to happen. We don’t know which way change is going, but we have to be ready to survive whatever ever it is. This country could just as easily become another poor third word country struggling with a debt it can never pay off, but forcing greater suffering on most of the people. The wealthy can move to any country that they want, but the rest of us are pretty much stuck here. Most countries are pretty picky about who the will let in.

      WeAmericans have made the mistaken idea that we are special. Once a people think, that they begin to do stupid and often horrible things. Every other civilization has collapsed and so can our. But we can’t seem to face that.

      How many poor people have trapped themselves by the debt they have allowed themselves to get into. Nothing more alluring than the easy payment plan, yet you cannot know how long your will remain employed, or what your boss is going to pay you.Sometimes business just closes down and walks away with out paying employees.

      Do you have the money to pay lawyers to fight for you a few years, a decade or more? So the first thing you have to do is get rid of debt. Only without debt do you have any choices that you can make. Even then you only have a few choices. But with debt you don’t have any choices.

      Poor people cannot afford to have bad habits, that will milk you dry as well. How much does it cost you to smoke, how much does it cost for you to drink, how much does it cost for the drugs that you use, medical or otherwise? Just another way to keep you poor. You certainly can’t afford to gamble. Now that is something that you can decide to control, but if not it will control you and enslave you. That is something that you do to yourselves.

      Ironically we do it to have a good time. How good a time do you have being addicted? I had to learn to dump all those things, except the gambling, because I never did find losing money to be exciting. But I had to stop smoking, drop the drinking and give up on some drugs. Now that money can go into things that I really like to do. You can take responsibility for your own life and when you do, you gain some power. You never have any power by playing victim. Now I did that rather late in life,how much better if you do those things when you are younger,or never get into them at all.

  16. I have read a few comments but not all yet (there’s a lot!) but I am very shocked. I live in Montreal, Quebec CANADA and I attend university, and I recall a particular class that I took and we discussed racism in the war and the fact that black soldiers were placed in the front lines knowing they would get killed first and then the white soldiers could come and ‘save the day,’ so to speak. The class had heated conversations, and things got ugly even but at the end of the day, that was then and this is now. Not to dare say that racism doesn’t exist anymore but that we’ve evolved some. I cant believe that narrow-mindedness still exists to that extend, that a young woman, within her impressionable stage (pre/teen), cannot attend school in order to get her education. Appalled.

    Going a step further, the professionals in this situation ought to be ashamed of themselves and the manner in which they’ve conducted their business. What are they trying to prove to their young black students? What are they trying to prove to their young white students? How do they think these young people will go on to address others in their daily lives? Their behaviour is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

  17. Miss Williams keep your eyes on the prize; do not be distracted by naysayers. Your are our bright and shinning future. I looked foreward to hearing more from you. I am going to call the school.

  18. Please do not forget the point. the point is that this student did a good job on her assignment and then was ridiculed to the point where she is now, not accepted at any school in the area. It seems “they” the teachers and admin are like Mr. Auld. Will the Mrs. Aulds please stand up?

  19. Unfortunately This to be Honest is nothing New,Thats what Fredrick Douglass was saying back in the 1800..that`s why the Slave master did what he did to his wife for teaching Him to read..All the thing we get are tainted goods and that includes the education we receive from kindergarten through high school and college. Anyone that has read Nat Turner,Malcolm X or Martin L King, or has studied History should know about Oppression,Its nothing New…I applaud this you Girl for realizing the truth that`s been known for decades..How many others people have understood this same effect they Slavery has had on our people.The Jews people don`t want anyone to forget the Holocaust but many of white America would like to forget Slavery or relegate it to something trivial that happened years ago and they did`nt have anything to do with it!. How many other people could be taken from their homeland and placed in a strange place and made slaves and not allowed to learn to read or write and taught a foreign Religion for 400 years,then are supposedly set free,then a new set of laws are enacted to further the slave condition(Michelle Alexander,The New Jim Crow) and they expect Us to forgive and forget and make It in a society who`s whole purpose since you were brought here to America was to enslave you!(Douglas Blackmon Slavery By Another Name)..at least give us the 400 years you took to allow us to reach that goal.Slavery did not truly end until the 40s but now there is a New Slavery!

  20. It is important for all of us to know the history. Black History is not separated from American History. It is history on a timeline that can not be dismissed. It happened and when I think about my great-great grandparents being slaves and my great grandfather being born free and having land and hiring workers to run his farms in 1863 in Georgia. He could read and write and calculate his own expenses because he could read and write. It is important to know the history of your own and other Blacks who paved the way for us.
    Its sad. The teacher should not have copied the essay. That was inappropriate. She should be suspended . Also, she should have taken the time to assist the child in her writing. Not to change her thoughts but to help tie in loose ends.
    I had a situation in the 70’s in college and found the situation. I had individuals and friends that assisted me because I refuse to be railroaded and kicked out. My situation involved a white professor but I fought for what I believed in. There was no way I was going to tell my parents that I was kicked out the institution. I ended up getting my masters also. You must fight for your beliefs regardless.
    The usage of the n word today can be applied to any ethnic group.
    Yes, I am Black and I am somebody.

    • Vee, You prove a point, life is unfair, but you still don’t have to let that stop you. You got farther than me, so you had to really work at it. You could have failed and used your teacher as an excuse, but instead you fought harder to get what you wanted. But I think that runs in your family and you are stronger for it.

      Black history is part of American history, it also makes America what it is. As does the history of ever other people in our country. Take away an one group of people and we would not be the country we are. Each people added to our country.

      We are the ancestors to our descendants. What will they think about us. Will they be proud of us are embarrassed by us. We are making the future and this is the history of it. Do we make change happen, or do we wait for it to happen while making excuses why we can’t do anything until those people change. Excuses are reasons that we invent to justiyf our own not doing anything.

      I have never met a compassionate person who has never suffered. I have never met a strong person who had not lived through rough times. I have never met an successful person that waited around for someone to help them.

      We have to take full responsibility for our own lives. We have to make it in the world the way it is, not the world we would like it to be. We can’t wait around for those people to change. We can never give up on ourselves, but we must be fully honest about what we are, and stop making excuses. And that goes for all of us.

      We never have full control over what happens to us, but we do have full control over how we choose to react to what happens to us. That is a lot more power than we realize. Happiness is an internal strength we build that not only helps us survive what happens to us, but makes us keep wanting to find out what happens next. Misery is a lot easier to accept because it does not require much from us.

  21. I think it’s interesting–and almost frighteningly ironic–how many white folks are getting offended about the posters in this forum being honest and telling it like it is. Jada Williams has her work cut out for her . . . and for the rest of us. I am white, but when I hear a person of color telling me how racist whites are, my first reaction is not “oh, but I’m not racist, by saying all whites are racist, you’re the racist one”, etc. My first reaction is “I need to hear this. I need to listen.” Part of being a white racist in the United States is feeling that you have the privilege to be an individual above all else, even while enjoying the omnipresent privilege of your cultural race.

    • Erik,

      I always listen. One can always learn more. Like the year I was a member of the NAACP. The magazine was a learning experience by itself, something I would never have seen in the normal media which deals only in accepted stereotypes that won’t bother the majority. It is the same reason I do read the Black history books in my local library and the same reason I have put such books in the library because it just might inspire a black kid to aim higher.

      The higher a young person aims, the higher that they will reach. Just like the man we have now in the White House. He didn’t follow stereotypes which is why he is the President of the United States. I think a great many of us had not expected to see that yet. Thank goodness that he didn’t wait around for us to make it happen, perhaps starting out as a vice president candidate.

      Now I am waiting to see the first woman President. If she were to be a Latino woman I am sure that would have a major affect on those people as well. Young people are too dumb to know what is impossible, as a result sometimes they make the impossible possible and amaze us all.

      By the way as White people will soon be a minority, I think we would do well to study what has worked for other minorities. Ah I would start with what has worked for black people as they led the way. Learning Spanish as a second language might be wise as we are going to have closer ties with Mexico, Central and South America.

      In fact all of our kids might find that learning more than one language might be very wise. As the future is uncertain, who knows what country our young people may find employment in. We may need to do as our ancestors and the young ones move to a country they can make a better living in, or that has even more freedom, if our local fundamentalist gain control.

      Always we all should keep all of our options open,no matter what country we end up living in, including the United States. Meanwhile whomever ends up running this country better be well trained and well educated, so I think we best get to fixing our school system.We cannot afford to have anyone badly education, as any of them may be running this country some day.

  22. To echo Eric a bit, this has a revealing thread. Most posts, especially from white people, have completely misunderstood racism and bigotry (see my earlier post). It is no wonder, though, when one understands that ours is a racist nation to its core, and one of the evidences is the vast disparity between whites and Blacks in terms of income levels, ownership and quality of homes, personal financial wealth, health care, etc. Intellectualizing the issue–as Christopher apparently attempts–by “studying up” on Blackness and Black culture provides a thin veneer for the consciousnesses of whites so they can pretend to themselves that they are not racist. A racist society would not long last if its dominant group realized how evil and rotten racism is, so part of the racist system is to provide various “outs” so that members of the dominant group do not see how immeshed they are in it. Therefore, believing things like, “Anyone can make it in America–all they have to do is work hard,” subtly provides a way to discount the disparities mentioned above. Lines like, “Well, I never enslaved anyone, so I have nothing to feel guilty of” gives plausible deniability to the fact that white people benefit much, much more from our racist system of White Power than people in any minority group. (Incidentally, unless there is a drastic “Revolution of values” that Dr. King called for 40 years ago, even when white people comprise a statistical minority, they will still hold the power they have always enjoyed in this country.) And referring to people of different ethnicities as “those people” is a sure indication of deeply denied racism.

    As a some-time addiction counsellor, I believe that racism and racist attitudes may not manifest themselves in individuals as bigotry–many whites who unconsciously are emmeshed in this racist system will earnestly claim things like, “Some of my best friends are Black” as if that was relevant to the problem of eradicating racism–and may be a form of mental illness or a “thought addiction.” In any event, the cutting edge of both racism and bigotry is the inability to recognize the absolute kinship between human beings, and carry the crazy idea that there are “they”s and “those people.” In other words, until we see that all people, each and every one, is our brother or sister, aunt or uncle, or grandparent.

    Now, if we really had THAT attitude, what would be different? Well for one thing, for most of us if we saw one of our family members suffering, we would move heaven and earth to help them. So what would happen if when we saw starving Somalians or dead or wounded Afghans, we were struck by the overwhelming insight that THEY ARE MY FAMILY MEMBERS!! AND THEY ARE SUFFERING!!! And we would move heaven and earth to help them. We would start with direct aid, but soon realize that there are forces at work in the world–mighty forces–that actually CAUSE suffering like that in many places in the world. If we went to East Africa to aid our Somali brothers and sisters, we might learn that their suffering is not “natural” or self-inflicted, and that before white people invaded Africa, there had been for thousands of years kingdoms and empires that were greater than anything Europe had produced. We would find that colonialism did immense damage to Africans (and folks on other continents) and that NEO-colonialism–which is the main economic system governing poor countries–is worse even than colonialism. The Western bankers don’t only destroy the lives of Americans, but they and the institutions they run–like the World Bank and IMF operate in ways that ensure that the poor get poorer and the Western elite grows richer, because both colonialism and its modern incarnation are designed to take from the poor to give to the rich.

    We would become so angry that such a system was hurting not only our brothers and sisters in Somalia but on Main St. USA, that we would revolt against and tear down that system, and replace it with something humane, that valued people over profits and wealth, something along the lines of Dr. King’s “Beloved Community” for all people.

    The proper response when we hear criticisms of the White Power Structure from “those people” is not only to listen, but empathize. To recognize and admit, “Yes, I’m beginning to understand. If I were you, I would feel the same way. What do you suggest I do to change this rotten, filthy system?”

    • Thomas, You are good at constructing straw men to suit your own purposes and to back up your own opinion. Please don’t try to tell me what I really think or if I am racist or not. You can speak for yourself, but out cannot speak for me. I am not impressed by phony intellectuals.

      Let me explain something to you.when I came back from Vietnam I had an absolute hatred of the white race and did my best to avoid white people as much as possible. For over a decade I didn’t have even one for a friend, I could not stand to be around them.

      I finally cured myself of that as it was not healthy, but I have no ties to my ancestors even today and that includes my own father and mother. I am still uncomfortable with being around white people longer than an hour or so, necessary in my shop in the tourist business. So you have just proven that you don’t know what you are talking about.

      Racism,no one here has said it is over, but it no longer is coming from one side we can see plenty of it in all people in their actions and thoughts about other people and all of us know that.

      I hated my father for the damage he did to everyone in my family, including me, but I did not start healing until I realized that not only was I the only one that could heal me , but also the only one who would care to. That is true of each person, no matter who hurt them originally. Healing is a personal responsibility and no one ever accomplished it while holding on the the victim mentality.

      By the way as it has been ignored by most of the people posting,

      Jada williams did not put the whole of the blame on her white teachers for not teaching but also on the black students who refused to be learners.

      Notice that she still managed to be a top student in spite of her bad teachers. Again that is true of all good students, because most teachers are mediocre at best and have always been.Certainly that was true when I was in school and i suspect it has always been true as long as there have been schools and teachers. My problems being a student had nothing to do with the quality of my teachers, or the lack of quality.

      I would not be surprised if Jada herself would not be shocked about what you are trying to read into her situation. Regardless of the teachers and even the school, I suspect she will still go far in spite of it because she is not about to allow anyone to stop her.

      Unfortunately one cannot say that about most of the students, regardless of their color. They are too busy looking for excuses and playing victim.

  23. This article may be a reflection of many bad things in our society, but it also shows something good, that many people likely missed. In her essay, Jada Williams stated, “A grand price was paid in order for us to be where we are today; but in my mind we should be a lot further, so again I encourage the white teachers to instruct and I encourage my people to not just be a student, but become a learner.” Did anyone catch that? She wasn’t saying that it was the fault of one side or the other. Both sides, both blacks and whites, EACH had their own problems and drawbacks. I’m sure there are many black students, like Jada Williams herself, who study hard and truly learn, and I’m sure there’s many white teachers who truly instruct their students without caring about race or ethnicity. Jada Williams is a person we should all strive to emulate, she realizes that there IS racism in this world, and it IS a problem. But it is not the problem of one side or the other, it is a problem that all of us have, and that we all must strive to improve upon.

    • Chris wood,

      You are one of the few to see what Jada was actually saying about the problem. Most everyone else is using her to fit their own agendas and care nothing about what she was actually saying.
      You actually paid attention to what she said and meant.

  24. Unfortunately, I am not surprised by the actions of Jada’s school & the gang mentality of the subsequent schools; the pack of wolves disguised as educational administrators are trying to break that intelligent girl down but it’s only going to encourage her to push forward b/c Jada, like Frederick Douglass, refuses to be mentally oppressed. She’s so wise beyond her years & has shed light on a somewhat hidden fact. I just don’t understand why the parents don’t sue. The school’s refusal to produce Jada’s assignments is ridiculous AND if pursued legally, her schoolwork CAN be subpoenaed.

    Complaining to the school’s principal is NOT enough. Formal complaints need to be written to the school board & beyond! C’mon now; wake up!

    • I agree Crystal that Jada is not going to give up, especially as she realizes that she has a lot of people rooting for her. If she can get her essay to the internet, there are going to be a lot of people who will want to read it, so far more than just a few stupid teachers.

  25. Good post, Matthew. I think we all need to focus on where we’re going and not so much on where we’ve been, if we are ever able to demonstrate the fundamental human respect for one another that we are all entitled to.

  26. […] her essay, Jada was reportedly harassed out of School #3, ending up in an even worse school reserved for troubled […]

  27. Oh my God. I sat here and read just about every one of the comments on here. And every one is talking about how they’re getting offended. Guess what? Its life. Shit happens. Then you die. Yes, there are people that are racists or just don’t like someone or something. but there are 7 billion people alive today, I’m sure you can find someone in the area that you are in to accept you the way you are. there are good people out there, surprisingly. and its not just white people or black people or mexicans or whatever that are holding the human race back by not letting them do something. its the people that get butt hurt about stupid shit. and yes i do agree that she shouldn’t have gotten kicked out of school for her essay. everyone is allowed to have their own opinion and express it. in that way, i agree with this article in the fact that the girl was treated wrongly. but the point of the essay is racist in itself. you’re black? cool story. you’re white? cool story. every race has its positives and negatives within its culture. just like life. accept it and get the fuck over it.

    • Philip

      Our view of how our life is going is often colored by what we pay attention to the most. I used t be quite an angry and frustrated young man, starting with the fact the world did not operate the way it was supposed, it want fair and I suffered from all the longings of a young man and wanted it all now.Meanwhile no bad thing was ever ignored, no matter how small.

      Well I am an old geezer now, I have been through a major set of health issues that almost killed me, even had five operation on one eye so that cannot read with it, and have balance problems, nearly deaf in one ear, and use a walker outside, barely can smell of taste much of anything and not even have a sex life. Sounds horrible to a young person, who would imagine being dead might be better.

      But I no longer expect the world to be other than what it is, I am amazed to note how often people are honest, even when it costs them, amazed to find beauty in the midst of even ugliness, enjoy the young people I meet, don’t find any need to play old man games on them, notice every good things no matter how small, ignore any bad thing that does not endanger my life, do a few things each day that I really doing, try to encourage people where I can, even about things like getting older, read a lot more and watch a lot more movies when I can. I am lot more relaxed.I am even taking on a long term project that may are may not be possible for me to do, simply because I have wanted to do it for over fifty years.

      Just the difference in attitude and focus is the difference between being angry and frustrated and happy and relaxed.All this in the same basic world I have always lived in with the risks and problems hopes and dreams I have always had.

      As Will Rogers said”People are about as happy as they allow themselves to be.”Look him up, he was a Cherokee cowboy humorist.

  28. My sister once told me that some teachers were neglected as kinds and they take their revenge out on other kids and they have a vast audience. I went to a school that had been segregated for three years. I oppression from the teachers was deplorable. The white teachers cheated you out of grades and opportunities to participate in and win championships and scholarships. The black teachers were brown nosers and help to suspend as many Black students as possible. When I had my children, the same bull was going on and I thank God that I did not work, because I would have lost my job. My children were persecuted because I would not allow anyone in the school system to demean them in any way. The were not the smartest or the best behaved, but they did not deserve the treatment rendered because the system did not appreciate my handling of situations involving my children. I have had teachers to talk about my childs hair (he had a bush in the 3rd grade (1978), two teachers had liquor in their desk drawer, one homosexual was identified by my son because he believed the teacher was molesting his friend, I would not allow the school to suspend my son, my child was allowed to be off campus without notification to me, and the list goes on and on. I live in the District of Columbia and the school situation here is deplorable. Students are deprived of education on a daily basis. If they come to school with the wrong color shirt, if they come to school late (most that are not at school fifteen to half hour early will be late because they have to go through metal detectors), they do anything not liked by a staff member rather in the class or in the hallway in route to class or recess, they will be suspended or expelled. If ten absences/suspensions are given to a child, they have to be evaluated for special education. The Black population has a great special education population. Some kids spend their entire education life in special education. Special education teaches little, and are more like prisions for the mentally and physically challenged, and some of these charter schools that have provided special education have been closed because of this reason. When students complain of the abuses received at schools, public and chartered/private, they are suspended or expelled. I have grandchildren, nieces, God children, and kids who want to talk to me, who tell me of the unjustices that still exist for children of color. Some of the parents of these children have to maintain an abundance of control because some of the episodes of supposed disobedience are so unwarranted and cause parents to lose time from work that the parent wants to whip on the school administrators who perputrate these travesties. More oversight should be put into the school system. Cameras in the classroom and the hallways would be a good system. I bet there would be a significant change in these classrooms. Unlike the cameras that monitor traffic, these cameras will not make money for the governments, so they will “never” be incorporated. On the contrary, the governments would probably lose money from law suits because the neglect of these children will be EXPOSED. We do not need angry children. And all of these children are not angered by what is happending to them at home, they are just as angry by what happens to them at school ias they enter through the metal detectors, n their classrooms, in the cafeteria, in study halls, and on the way from school. The government permits the neglect because they give the right to the school system to expel your child at will and also have no protection other than police, who are paid to protect government property, not children. I am so sorry that Jada Williams had to go through what she went through, but someone has to expose these educators for what they are. They are criminals who are robbing our children of their education, self respect, and their hopes and dreams. Look at what the teacher did because they did not like that she felt that the teachers were not teaching and that children were being left behind if they were not learning. These children are sure to be the future prisoners or derelicts of the future thanks to the educational institutes of the United States of American who promote “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND.”

    • These are exactly the kinds of things that have to be brought to a stop. Think what society loses b this.How many kids that could have become our future scientists, inventor, business people, doctors, lawyers, government leaders,military leaders, technicians ,artists, authors, artists, scholars and more are being lost to lousy schools and lousy teachers, and administrators. The same goes for the lack of support from the Parents, who do not push education.

      How badly is our society and our nation being impoverished of its future, by not encouraging our best kid, regardless of back ground to become what they could become. The future survival of our nation is endangered by this.

      Lets increase the pay of our teachers so that some of our brightest young people will move into teaching. If we do this we can then afford to be a lot stricter about the quality of our teachers. Teachers are more import part of education, if they are no good, then everything else you invest into a school is wasted.

  29. I don’t understand why her parents are not suing the school, because ANY parent has the legal right to see their child’s classwork, grades, school record.

    But this young 13-year old child is right, that is exactly what is happening to young Black children in public schools, whether consciously or not on the teachers parts, and that would include Black teachers as well in most cases.

    What is also true is her reference to, ” “white teachers” do not have enough control of the classroom to successfully teach the minority students”. We have known that since integration first began; it is like ‘the thing that we dare not speak it name’, because we don’t want to offend the so many wonderful teachers that happen to be White, and because we don’t want to further add to the already debilitating stereotypes that too many teachers already see our children as, rather than as they see any other students, i.e., White students.

    Considering the devastation that public schools and integration has wreaked on generations now, of our children, maybe it is time to that we all talk about it.

    • Well perhaps you need more good quality Black Teachers. Remember teaching is the poorest paid of all the professions. that is not the best way to encourage qualified people to take it up.

      As for lawsuits it is a question of what do you gain and what do you lose by doing so. It is also a case of whom do you hurt by it.

      In this case you can’t sue the people responsible, just the school system and the system has the use of tax payers money to fight you and drag it on. Winning can also be losing, if you win the case and get even more hatred directed against you. So the family may need to decide if it would be worth it especially with the level of discrimination in our legal system

      The world is not fair so don’t waste you time waiting for it to become fair, never going to happen. There have been successful Black men and women since before we were even a country, and they were successful under far more difficult times than now. Troubles and trials are used by some people to find their strengths. I have never met a strong person nor a brave person who has not had troubles and trials to endure. I have never met a compassionate person that has not suffered.

      Someone trying to pin a stereotype on you, then live the opposite of it as you can, don’t live the stereotype. Want better images of black people, then create it yourself and get more of you into the media, create a better media. If you go into business, make sure that you treat your workers better than the businesses around you, become part of the solution, not another part of the problem.

      Train that brain, get your skills together and stop making excuses and you will win out. Work together with other Black people, more people working together the stronger they can be. Mentor Black kids, set high standards for them. Help each other. To get what you want are you willing to risk your life, Dr. King was willing to do it, and he is one Black person no one can forget. It is all about what are you willing to do to get want you want.

  30. I understand your point of view, but, really, the same way most people take your kindness for weakness, most people take your not doing anything about being wronged for a green light to run all over you and to continue to do the same wrong over and over and over.

    If the family sues the school, then EVERYONE has to explain their part in this racial harassment, the child being given lessor grades than she deserved would have to be explained or proven that she was not given lessor grades than she deserved. The school system would have to cough up big money if they win the law suit and big money in attorney’s fees even if they did not. Most companies, including the public school, inc., are not about to pay out more money in a law suit that what they pay you in salary, and without terminating you. Also, other schools would be (or should be) reluctant to hire you as a teacher if you are doing things that are clearly against school policy, rules and regualations, discriminatory, abusive and will cause the school system to have to shell out hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions or dollars.

    That’s why people sue, not only for the money, but it is the only way that a wrong can be REALLY corrected in many cases.

  31. Gigi,

    I understand your point view and a great many people would agree with you.But let me mention a completely different case.

    A women I know moved into a small town in North Carolina and lived there for six months. She was being hassled by the local crack cocaine dealer on the street for not buying any. So she went to the town council meeting and tried the bring the subject up. However the town council wasn’t interested in Crack Cocaine dealers in town and chose instead to attack her religion, Wicca. She was verbally attacked at ever town council meeting and this lead to physical attacks on her person, her home, and her animals and orders to the local police to not investigate any crime against her. Her house was totally trashed eight times, her animals were tortured and killed and she was beaten twice, her vehicles sabotaged to try to get her killed

    She was finally forced to sue the town council for their continued harassment and won every case right up to the United States Supreme Court. Nothing has changed and not a single crime against her has ever been investigated by any police agency. I reported on this case for several years and know the lady.

    Another Wiccan, a man , moved to town and his house was set on fire while he was napping. That case has never been investigated. Now both of those people happened to be white, didn’t do them any good though in fighting the good ol’ boy system.

    Look at this recent case of a black teenager killed in Florida, and a rich kid at that. The guy that killed him has a rich ex judge for a father, and he has never been arrested in spite of the fact that the investigating officer said he should have been arrested. His police chief over ruled him and turned the killer loose. Now we are supposed to believe that a 140 pound black teenager would attack a 240 armed white man and this justified being shot. Meanwhile the boy’s family has all kinds of support from all kinds of people. So far no affect.

    So if this Black girl’s family questions going to court on this case, I think I can understand their decision. Meanwhile I strongly doubt that girl is not going to go one and become one hell of a hard fighting successful Black Woman.

  32. Oh for Christ’s sake…can’t we ALL just get ALONG!

    • Mary,

      Of course we can, so the question is do we want to? There are always going to be people who benefit by keeping people all divided up. Being divided keeps us powerless. Cooperating the good people are the majority and can win. So it is our choice whether we work together or stay helpless.

      Meanwhile a small advance, Zimmerman is now in jail and going to stand trial but only because people worked together, regardless of who they were,what color they were, or even where they lived. Go going people.

      Now lets go to work on our schools o make them good schools and centers of learning as Jada Williams suggested.

  33. My heart is full of sadness after reading this story and the responses. Where are your compassion people? Why when events such as this take place. Why do we make these black/white issues? Do we not see that this is a child? Do we not realize that this is a way for the Devil to keep us in bondage?

    • The best way to deny us power as people is encourage us to fight each other instead of working together. I can assure you that school are rarely better in mostly white schools either,dumbing down of education to make dumber citizens that the “important” people can control by their emotions is going on nationwide.
      Nor is it just wealthy people and politicians, look at some of the foolishness being pressed by conservative religion, such as Intelligent design and lets take medical decisions out of the hands of a women and her doctor. Let outlaw the right of people to speak against the government doing wrong. No as long as we keep playing the white/black game we all will lose. All people in this country, regardless of race, have the same powerful enemies trying to take away their freedom and rights, Religious Right, the Wealthy, and the Government. Unfortunately the Democrats and the Republicans are not much different any more, bought by the same wealthy people.

  34. Haha ya u go son! i gunna agree witchu her. Aint nobody gonna tell u how 2 rite a essay.

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