Testimony about Policy 1080: Educational Equity

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you. As drafted there is a definition of “Racism – The belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another, that a person’s social and moral traits are predetermined by his or her inborn biological characteristics.”

This definition is useless for a governing body, as a belief is unable to be observed, documented, tracked, or improved. Even if this belief were a useful metric or descriptor, it makes racism an intent based label: this definition means that no action or inaction lacking the underlying belief can be a practice of racism. This belief, and the sister belief of “racial separatism”, as written provide cover for abuses rather than providing direction for improvement.

Racism is a thing that happens, it is observable, and it is measurable. It has been performed on this continent for centuries. It is enshrined in the text of the Constitution when it starts out “We the People of the United States … secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves” but then upholds racial based enslavement in Article 6 Section 2. Perpetuating this history of abuse does not require any active belief. Racist ideas are an integral part of our history, one could say they have been stamped from the beginning.

I urge you to instead adopt the definitions offered by Dr Kendi in his explorations of the history of racist ideas.

Racist IdeaAny idea that suggests one racial group is inferior or superior to another racial group in any way.
Racist PolicyAny measure that produces or sustains racial inequity between racial groups.

As a school district that desires to embrace our diversity, to be inclusive, and to achieve equity, we cannot punish or marginalize students, educators, or the community for their beliefs. We also cannot accept racism from our students, educators, or the community. These need not be a paradoxical assertion. Racism is not a belief, racism is an action. Thus I offer one more definition:

RacismThe act of supporting a racist policy through action or inaction or expressing a racist idea.

Please use Policy 1080 to position the HCPSS as a bastion against racism. We should not denigrate beliefs, but we should be intolerant of racism. We can do a whole lot of harm without holding the belief of racism while doing a lot of racism. Our school district and each of us individually should strive instead to be antiracist. Racism is not a belief, it is a behavior.

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